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VOLUME.n . v 


Thi Jewish Publication Socihty of Auhica 



• ^ \(- 1 






UGT 1 1954J 

Cormoht, 1911, n 
Jta Jiwmt Publication Socnrr or 


It was originally proposed to giro the history of Russian 
Jewry after 1825— the year with which the first volume con- 
cludes — in a single volume. This, however, would have re- 
sulted in producing a volume of unwieldy dimensions, entirely 
out of proportion to the one preceding it. It has, therefore, 
become imperative to divide Dubnow's work into three, in- 
stead of into two, volumes. The second volume, which is here- 
with offered to the public, treats of the history of Russian 
Jewry from the death of Alexander I. (1825) until the death 
of Alexander III. (1894). The third and concluding volume 
will deal with the reign of Nicholas II., the last of the 
Romanovs, and will also contain the bibliographical appa- 
ratus, the maps, the index, and other supplementary material. 
This division will undoubtedly recommend itself to the reader. 
The next volume is partly in type, and will follow as soon as 
circumstances permit. 

Of the three reigns described in the present volume, that of 
Alexander III., though by far the briefest, is treated at con- 
siderably greater length than the others. The reason for it is 
not far to seek. The events which occurred during the four- 
teen years of his reign laid their indelible impress upon Rus- 
sian Jewry, and they have had a determining influence upon 
the growth and development of American Israel. The account 
of Alexander IIL's reign is introduced in the Russian orig- 
inal by a general characterization of the anti-Jewish policies 
of Russian Tzardom. Owing to the re-arrangement of the 


material, to which reference was made in the preface to the 
first volume, this introduction, which would have interrupted 
the flow of the narrative, had to be omitted. But a few pas- 
sages from it, written in the characteristic style of Mr* Dub- 
now, may find a place here : 

Russian Tzardom began its consistent rftle as a persecutor of 
the Eternal People when it received, by way of bequest, the vast 
Jewish population of disintegrated Poland. At the end of the 
eighteenth century, when Western Europe had Just begun the 
emancipation of the Jews, the latter were subjected in the East of 
Europe to every possible medieval experiment .... The reign 
of Alexander II., who slightly relieved the civil disfranchisement 
of the Jews by permitting certain categories among them to live 
outside the Pale and by a few other measures, forms a brief 
interlude in the Russian policy of oppression. His tragic death 
in 1881 marks the beginning of a new terrible reaction which has 
superimposed the system of wholesale street pogroms upon the 
policy of disfranchisement, and has again thrown millions of 
Jews into the dismal abyss of medievalism. 

Russia created a lurid antithesis to Jewish emancipation at a 
time when the latter was consummated not only in Western 

Europe, but also in the semi-civilized Balkan States True, 

the rise of Russian Judseophobia-— the Russian technical tain 
for Jew-hatred — was paralleled by the appearance of German 
anti-Semitism in which it found a congenial companion. Yet, 
the anti-Semitism of the West was after all only a weak aftermath 
of the infantile disease of Europe — the medieval Jew-hatred — 
whereas culturally retrograde Russia was still suffering from the 
same infection in its acute, "childish" form. The social and 
cultural anti-Semitism of the West did not undermine the modern 
foundations of Jewish civil equality. But Russian Judaophobia, 
more governmental than social, being fully in accorji with the 
entire regime of absolutism, produced a system aiming not only 
at the disfranchisement, but also at the direct physical anni- 
hilation of the Jewish people. The policy of the extermination 
of Judaism was stamped upon the forehead of Russian reaction, 


receiving various colors at various periods, assuming the hue 
now of economic, now of national and religious, now of bureau- 
cratic oppression. The year 1881 marks the starting-point of this 
systematic war against the Jews, which has continued until our 
own days, and Is bound to reach a crisis upon the termination of 
the great world struggle. 

Concerning the transcription of Slavonic names, the reader 
is referred to the explanations given in the preface to the first 
volume. The foot-notes added by the translator have been 
placed in square brackets. The poetic quotations by the author 
have been reproduced in English verse, the translation follow- 
ing both in content and form the original languages of the 
quotations as closely as possible. As in the case of the first 
volume, a number of editorial changes have become necessary. 
The material has been re-arranged and the headings have been 
supplied in accordance with the general plan of the work. 
A number of pages have been added, dealing with the atti- 
tude of the American people and Government toward the anti- 
Jewish persecutions in Russia. These additions will be found 
on pp. 292-296, pp. 394-396, and pp. 408-410. I am indebted 
to Dr. Cyrus Adler for his kindness in reading the proof of 
this part of the work. 

The dates given in this volume are those of the Russian 
calendar, except for the cases in which the facts relate to 
happenings outside of Russia. 

As in the first volume, the translator has been greatly 
assisted by the Hon. Mayer Sulzberger, who has read the 
proofs with his usual care and discrimination, and by Professor 
Alexander Marx, who has offered a number of valuable 
suggestions. I. F. 

New York, February 25, 1918. 




XIIL The Military Despotism of Nicholas I. 

1. Military Service as a Means of De-Judalzation. . 13 

2. The Recruiting Ukase of 1827 and Juvenile Con- 

scription 18 

3. Military Martyrdom 22 

4. The Policy of Expulsions 30 

5. The Codification of Jewish Disabilities 34 

€. The Russian Censorship and Conversionist En- 
deavors 41 


1. Enlightenment as a Means of Assimilation 46 

2. Uvarov and Lilienthal , 50 

3. The Abolition of Jewish Autonomy and Renewed 

Persecutions 59 

4. Intercession of Western European Jewry 66 

5. The Economic Plight of Russian Jewry and 

Agricultural Experiments 69 

6. The Ritual Murder Trial of Velizh 72 

7. TheMstislavl Affair 84 

XV. The Jews in the Kingdom of Poland. 

1. Plans of Jewish Emancipation 88 

2. Political Reaction and literary Anti-Semitism. . 94 

3. Assimllationist Tendencies Among the Jews of 

Poland 100 

4. The Jews and the Polish Insurrection of 1831. . 105 

XVI. The Inner Lite of Russian Jewry During The Period 

of Military Despotism. 

1. The Uncompromising Attitude of Rabhinism .... Ill 

2. The Stagnation of Hasidism 116 

3. The Russian Mendelssohn (Isaac Baer Levln- 

sohn) 125 

4. The Rise of Neo-Hebraic Culture 132 

6. The Jews and the Russian People. 138 

' r 



XVTL The Last Yeabs of Nicholas I. 

1. The " Assortment " of the Jews. .*..♦. 140 

2. Compulsory Assimilation 143 

3. New Conscription Horrors .......... 145 

4. The Ritual Murder Trial of Saratov 150 

XVIII. The Era of Reforms Under Alexander II. 

1. The Abolition of Juvenile Conscription 154 

2* " Homoeopathic " Emancipation and the Policy of 

"Fusion" 157 

3. The Extension of the Right of Residence 161 

4. Further Alleviations and Attempts at Russifica- 

tion 172 

5. The Jews and the Polish Insurrection of 1863. . . 177 

XIX The Reaction Under Alexander II. 

1. Change of Attitude Toward the Jewish Problem. 184 

2. The Informer Jacob Brafman 187 

3. The Fight Against Jewish "Separatism" 190 

4. The Drift Toward Oppression . 198 

XX The Inner Life of Russian Jewry During the Reign 
of Alexander II. 
N 1. The Russiflcation of the Jewish Intelligenzia. ... 206 
K 2. The Society for the Diffusion of Enlighten- 
ment 214 

^3. The Jewish Press 216 

4. The Jews and the Revolutionary Movement 221 

5. The Nee-Hebraic Renaissance 224 

6. The Harbinger of Jewish Nationalism (Perez 

Smolenskin) 233 

"** 7. Jewish Literature in the Russian Language 238 

XXI. The Accession of Alexander III. and the Inaugu- 
ration of Pogroms. 

1. The Triumph of Autocracy 243 

2. The Initiation of the Pogrom Policy........ 247 

3. The Pogrom at Kiev 251 

4. Further Outbreaks in South Russia 256 



XXIL The Anti-Jewish Policies of Ignatyev. 

L The Vacillating Attitude of the Authorities. . . 259 

2. The Pogrom Panic and the Beginning of the 

Exodus 265 

3. The Gubernatorial Commissions 269 

4. The Spread of Anti-Semitism 276 

5. The Pogrom at Warsaw 280 

XXIIL New Measures of Oppbession and Public Protests. 

L The Despair of Russian Jewry 284 

2. The Voice of England and America 287 

8. The Problem of Emigration and the Pogrom 

at Balta 297 

4. The Conference of Jewish Notables at St 

Petersburg 304 

XXIV. Legislative Pogroms. 

L The M Temporary Rules " of May 3, 1882 309 

2. Abandonment of the Pogrom Policy 312 

3. Disabilities and Emigration 318 

XXV. Inker Upheavals. 

L Disillusionment of the Intelligenzia and the 
National Revival 324 

2. Pinsker's " Autoemancipation " 330 

3. Miscarried Religious Reforms 333 

XXVL Increased Jewish Disabilities. 

L The Pahlen Commission and New Schemes of 
Oppression 336 

2. Jewish Disabilities Outside the Pale 342 

3. Restrictions in Education and in the Legal 

Profession 348 

4. Discrimination in Military Service 354 

XXVIL Russian Reaction and Jewish Emigration. 

1. Aftermath of the Pogrom Policy 358 

2. The Conclusions of the Pahlen Commission. . . 362 

3. The Triumph of Reaction 369 

4. American and Palestinian Emigration 373 



1. Intensified Reaction 378 

2. Continued Harassing 382 

3. The Guildhall Meeting in London 388 

4. The Protest of America 394 

XXIX. The Expulsion pbom Moscow. 

1. Preparing the Blow 399 

2. The Horrors of Expulsion 401 

3. Effect of Protests 407 

4. Pogrom Interludes 411 

XXX. Baron Hirsch's Emigration Scheme and Un- 
relieved Suffering. 

1. Negotiations with the Russian Government. . . 414 

2. The Jewish Colonization Association and Col- 

lapse of the Argentinian Scheme 419 

3. Continued Humiliations and Death of Alex- 

ander IIL 423 


1. Military Service as a Means of Db-Judaization 

The era of Nicholas I. was typically inaugurated by the 
bloody suppression of the Decembrists and their constitutional 
demands/ proving as it subsequently did one continuous tri- 
umph of military despotism over the liberal movements of the 
age. As for the emancipation of the Jews, it was entirely 
unthinkable in an empire which had become Europe's bulwark 
against the inroads of revolutionary or even moderately liberal 
tendencies. The new despotic regime, overflowing with aggres- 
sive energy, was bound to create, after its likeness, a novel 
method of dealing with the Jewish problem. Such a method 
was contrived by the iron will of the Russian autocrat. 

Nicholas L, who was originally intended for a military 
career, was placed on the Russian throne by a whim of fate. 8 
Prior to his accession, Nicholas had shown no interest in the 
Jewish problem. The Jewish masses had flitted across his 
vision but once — in 1816 — when, still a young man, he travelled 
through Russia for his education. The impression produced 
upon him by this strange people is recorded by the then 

I 1 See voL I, p. 410, n. 1.] 

[* After the death of Alexander I. the Russian crown fell to his 
eldest brother Constantine, military commander of Poland. Ac- 
cordingly, Constantino was proclaimed emperor, and was recog- 
nized as such by Nicholas. Constantlne, however, who had secretly 
abdicated some time previously, insisted on resigning, and Nicholas 
became Tsar.] 


grand duke in his diary in a manner fully coincident with 
the official views of the Government: 

The ruin of the peasants of these provinces * are the Zhyds.* As 
property-holders they are here second in importance to the landed 
nobility. By their commercial pursuits they drain the strength 
of the hapless White Russian people. . . . They are everything 
here: merchants, contractors, saloon-keepers, mill-owners, ferry- 
holders, artisans They are regular leeches, and sack these 

unfortunate governments" to the point of exhaustion. It is a 
matter of surprise that in 1812 they displayed exemplary loyalty 
to us and assisted us wherever they could at the risk of their lives. 

The characterization of merchants, artisans, mill-owners, 
and ferry-holders as " leeches " could only spring from a con- 
ception which looked upon the Jews as transient foreigners, 
who, by pursuing any line of endeavor, could only do so at the 
expense of the natives and thus abused the hospitality offered 
to them. No wonder then that the future Tzar was puzzled 
by the display of patriotic sentiments on the part of the Jewish 
population at the fatal juncture in the history of Russia. 

This inimical view of the Jewish people was retained by 
Nicholas when he became the master of Russian-Jewish des- 
tinies. He regarded the Jews as an " injurious element," 
which had no place in a Slavonic Greek-Orthodox monarchy, 
and which therefore ought to be combated. The Jews must be 
rendered innocuous, must be u corrected " and curbed by such 
energetic military methods as are in keeping with a form of 
government based upon the principles of stern tutelage and 
discipline. As a result of these considerations, a singular 

[* Nicholas is speaking of White Russia. Compare Vol. I, pp. 829 
and 406.] 
[* See on this term vol. I, p. 320, n. 2.] 
[• See on this term voL I, p. 308, n. L] 


scheme was gradually maturing in the mind of the Tzar: 
to detach the Jews from Judaism by impressing them into a 
military service of a wholly exceptional character. 

The plan of introducing personal military service, instead 
of the hitherto customary exemption tax/ had engaged the 
attention of the Bussian Government towards the end of Alex- 
ander 1/8 reign, and had caused a great deal of alarm among 
the Jewish communities. Nicholas I. was now resolved to 
carry this plan into effect. Not satisfied with imposing a 
civil obligation upon a people deprived of civil rights, the Tzar 
desired to use the Bussian military service, a service marked 
by most extraordinary features, as an educational and dis- 
ciplinary agency for his Jewish subjects: the barrack was 
to serve as a school, or rather as a factory, for producing a 
new generation of de-Judaized Jews, who were completely 
Russified, and, if possible, Christianized. 

The extension of the term of military service, marked by 
the ferocious discipline of that age, to a period of twenty-five 
years, the enrolment of immature lads or practically boys, 
their prolonged separation from a Jewish environment, and 
finally the employment of such methods as were likely to 
produce an immediate effect upon the recruits in the desired 
direction — all this was deemed an infallible means of dissolv- 
ing Bussian Jewry within the dominant nation, nay, within 
the dominant Church. It was a direct and simplified scheme 
which seemed to lead in a straight line to the goal. But had 
the ruling spheres of St. Petersburg known the history of the 
Jewish people, they might have realized that the annihilation 
of Judaism had in past ages been attempted more than once 

P See voL I, p. 318.] 


by other, no less forcible, means and that the attempt had 
always proved a failure. 

In the very first year of the new reign, the plan of transform- 
ing the Jews by " military " methods was firmly settled in the 
emperor's mind. In 1826 Nicholas instructed his ministers 
to draft a special statute of military service for the Jews, 
departing in some respects from the general law. In view of 
the fact that the new military reform was intended to include 
the Western region/ which was under the military command 
of the Tzar's brother, Grand Duke Constantine,* the draft was 
sent to him to Warsaw for further suggestions and approval, 
and was in turn transmitted by the grand duke to Senator 
Nicholas Novosiltzev, his co-regent,' for investigation and 
reportl As an experienced statesman, who had familiarized 
himself during his administrative activity with the Jewish 
conditions obtaining in the Western region, Novosiltzev real- 
ized the grave risks involved in the imperial scheme. In a 
memorandum submitted by him to the grand duke, he argued 
convincingly that the sudden imposition of military service 
upon the Jews was bound to cause an undesirable agitation 
among them, and that they should, on the contrary, be slowly 
" prepared for such a radical transformation/' 

Novosiltzev was evidently well informed about the state of 
mind of the Jewish masses. No sooner had the rumor of the 

[* The official designation for the territories of Western Russia 
which were formerly a part of the Polish Empire.] 

[* Constantine was appointed by his brother Alexander I. Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the Polish army after the restoration of Poland 
in 1815. He remained in this post until his death in 1S31. See 
also above, p. 13, n. 2.] 

[•He was the imperial Russian Commissary in Warsaw, and 
was practically in control of the affairs in Poland. See below, 
p. 92 et seq.l 



proposed ukase reached the Pale of Settlement than the Jews 
were seized by a tremendous excitement. It must be borne in 
mind that the Jewish population of Western Bussia had but 
recently been incorporated into the Russian Empire. Clinging 
with patriarchal devotion to their religion, estranged from the 
Russian people, and kept, moreover, in a state of civil right- 
lessness, the Jews of that region could not be reasonably 
expected to gloat over the prospect of a military service of 
twenty-five years' duration, which was bound to alienate their 
sons from their ancestral faith, detach them from their native 
tongue, their habits and customs of life, and throw them into 
a strange, and often hostile, environment. The ultimate aim 
of the project, which, imbedded in the mind of its originators, 
seemed safely hidden from the eye of publicity, was quickly 
sensed by the delicate national instinct, and the soul of 
the people was stirred to its depths. Public-minded Jews 
strained every nerve to avert the calamity. Jewish representa- 
tives journeyed to St. Petersburg and Warsaw to plead the 
cause of their brethren. Negotiations were entered into with 
dignitaries of high rank and with men of influence in the 
world of officialdom. Rumor had it that immense bribes 
had been offered to Novosiltzev and several high officials in 
St. Petersburg for the purpose of receiving their co-operation. 
But even the intercession of leading dignitaries was powerless 
to change the will of the Tzar. He chafed under the red-tape 
formalities which obstructed the realization of his favorite 
scheme. Without waiting for the transmission of Novosiltzev's 
memorandum, the Tzar directed the Minister of the Interior 
and the Chief of the General Staff to submit to him for 
signature an ukase imposing military service upon the Jews. 
The fatal enactment was signed on August 26, 1827. 



2. The Eeceuiting Ukase of 1837 and Juvenile 


The ukase announces the desire of the Government "to 
equalize military duty for all estates," without, be it noted, 
equalizing them in their rights. It further expresses the 
conviction that " the training and accomplishments, acquired 
by the Jews during their military service, will, on their return 
home after the completion of the number of years fixed by law 
(fully a quarter of a century!), be communicated to their 
families and make for greater usefulness and higher efficiency 
in their economic life and in the management of their affairs." 

However, the " Statute of Conscription and Military Serv- 
ice," subjoined to the ukase, was a lurid illustration of a 
tendency utterly at variance with the desire "to equalize 
military duly." Had the Bussian Government been genuinely 
desirous of rendering military duty uniform for all estates, 
there would have been no need of issuing separately for the Jews 
a huge enactment of ninety-five clauses, with supplementary 
" instructions," consisting of sixty-two clauses, for the guid- 
ance of the civil and military authorities. All that was neces- 
sary was to declare that the general military statute applied 
also to the Jews. Instead, the reverse stipulation is made: 
" The general laws and institutions are not valid in the case of 
the Jews " when at variance with the special statute (Clause 3) . 

The discriminating character of Jewish conscription looms 
particularly large in the central portion of the statute. Jew- 
ish families were stricken with terror on reading the eighth 
clause of the statute prescribing that " the Jewish conscripts 
presented by the [Jewish] communes shall be between the 
ages of twelve and twenty-five." This provision was supple- 
mented by Clause 74 : " Jewish minors, i. 6., below the age of 


eighteen, shall be placed in preparatory establishments for 
military training/' 

True, the institution of minor recruits, called caaUonists* 
existed also for Christians. But in their case it was con- 
fined to the children of soldiers in active service, by virtue of 
the principle laid down by Arakcheyev 1 that children born 
of soldiers were the property of the Military Department, 
whereas the conscription of Jewish minors was to be abso- 
lute and to apply to all Jewish families without discrimi- 
nation. To make things worse, the law demanded that the 
years of preparatory training should not be included in the 
term of active service, the latter to start only with the age 
of eighteen (Clause 90) ; in other words, the Jewish can- 
onists were compelled to serve an additional term of six years 
over and above the obligatory twenty-five years. Moreover, 
at the examination of Jewish conscripts, all that was demanded 
for their enlistment was " that they be free from any disease 
or defect incompatible with military service, but the other 
qualifications required by the general rules shall be left out 
of consideration " (Clause 10). 

The duty of enlisting the recruits was imposed upon the 
Jewish communes, or Eahals, which were to elect for that 
purpose between three and six executive officers, or " trustees," 
in every city. The community as such was held responsible 
for the supply of a given number of recruits from its own 
midst. It was authorized to draft into military service any 
Jew guilty "of irregularity in the payment of taxes, of 

[ 1 Prom Canton, a word applied in Prussia in the eighteenth 
century to a recruiting district In Russia, beginning with 1805, 
the term " cantonists " is applied to children born of soldiers and 
therefore liable to conscription.] 

£■ Bee voL I, p. 395, n. L] 


vagrancy, and other misdemeanors." In case the required 
number of recruits was not forthcoming within a given term, 
the authorities were empowered to obtain them from the 
derelict community " by way of execution." * Any irregularity 
on the part of the recruiting " trustees " was to be punished 
by the imposition of fines or even by sending them into the 

The following categories of Jem were exempted from 
military duty: merchants holding membership in guilds, 
artisans affiliated with trade-unions, mechanics in factories, 
agricultural colonists, rabbis, and the Jews,* few and far 
between at that time, who had graduated from a Russian 
educational institution. Those exempted from military service 
in kind were required to pay " recruiting money, 99 one thou- 
sand rubles for each recruit. The general law providing that 
a regular recruit could offer as his substitute a " volunteer " 
was extended to the Jews, with the proviso that the volunteer 
must also be a Jew. 

The "Instructions" to the civil authorities, appended to 
the statute, specify the formalities to be followed both at the 
recruiting stations and in administering the oath of allegiance 
to the conscripts in the synagogues. The latter ceremony was 
to be marked by gloomy solemnity. The recruit was to be 
arrayed in his prayer-shawl (Tallith) and shroud (Kittel). 
With his philacteries wound around his arm, he should be 
placed before the Ark and, amidst burning candles and to the 
accompaniment of shofar blasts, made to recite a lengthy 
awe-inspiring oath. The " Instructions " to the military au- 

[ 1 The term "execution" (ekzekutzia) la used in Russian to 
designate a writ empowering an officer to carry a judgment into 
effect, in other words, to resort to forcible seizure.] 


thorities accompanying the statute prescribe that every batch 
of Jewish conscripts " shall be entrusted to a special officer 
to be watched over, prior to their departure for their places 
of destination, and shall be kept apart from the other recruits." 
Both in the places of conscription and on the journey the 
Jewish recruits were to be quartered exclusively in the homes 
of Christian residents. 

The promulgated "military constitution" surpassed the 
very worst apprehension of the Jews. All were staggered by 
this sudden blow, which descended crushingly upon the mode 
of life, the time-honored traditions, and the religious ideals 
of the Jewish people. The Jewish family nests became astir, 
trembling for their fledglings. Barely a month after the 
publication of the military statute, the central Government 
in St. Petersburg was startled by the report that the Volhynian 
town of Old-Constantine had been the scene of " mutiny and 
disorders among the Jews " on the occasion of the promulga- 
tion of the ukase. Benckendorff, the Chief of the Gendar- 
merie/ conveyed this information to the Tzar, who thereupon 
gave orders that " in all similar cases the culprits be court- 
martialed." Evidently, the St Petersburg authorities appre- 
hended a whole series of Jewish mutinies, as a result of the 
dreadful ukase, and they were ready with extraordinary 
measures for the emergency. 

However, their apprehensions were unfounded. Apart from 
the incident referred to, there were no cases of open rebellion 
against the authorities. As a matter of fact, even in Old- 

I 1 Since 1827 the Gendarmerie served as the executive organ of 
the political police, or of the so-called Third Section, dreaded 
throughout Russia on account of its relentless cruelty in suppress- 
ing the slightest manifestation of liberal thought The Third 
Section was nominally abolished in 1880.] 


Constantine, the "mutiny" was of a nature little calculated 
to be dealt with by a court-martiaL According to the local 
tradition, the Jewish residents, Hasidim almost to a man, 
were so profoundly stirred by the imperial ukase that they 
assembled in the synagogues* fasting and praying, and finally 
resolved to adopt " energetic " measures. A petition reciting 
their grievances against the Tzar was framed in due form 
£,and placed in the hands of a member of the community who 
had just died, with the request that the deceased present it 
to the Almighty, the God of Israel. This childlike appeal to 
the heavenly King from the action of an earthly sovereign 
and the emotional scenes accompanying it were interpreted 
by the Bussian authorities as u mutiny ? Under the patriar- 
chal conditions of Jewish life prevailing at that time a politi- 
cal protest was a matter of impossibility. The only medium 
through which the Jews could give vent to their burning 
national sorrow was a religious demonstration within the 
walk of the synagogue. 

3. Military Makttbdom 

The ways and means by which the provisions of the military 
statute were carried into effect during the reign of Nicholas 
I. we do not learn from official documents, -which seem to 
have drawn a veil over this dismal strip of the past. Our 
information is derived from sources far more communica- 
tive and nearer to truth — the traditions current among the 
people. Owing to the fact that every Jewish community, at 
the mutual responsibility of all its members, was compelled 
by law to supply a definite number of recruits, and that no 
one was willing to become a soldier of his own volition, the 
Kahal administration and the recruiting " trustees," who had 


to answer to the authorities for any shortage in recruits, were 
practically forced to become a sort of police agents, whose 
function it was to " capture " the necessary quota of recruits. 
Prior to every military conscription, the victims marked for 
prey, the young men and boyB of the burgher class, 1 very gen- 
erally took to flight, hiding in distant cities, outside the zone 
of their Kahals, or in forests and ravines. A popular song 
in Yiddish refers to these conditions in the following words : 

Der Ukas is arobgekumen auf jUdische Seiner, 

Seinen mir sich zulofen in die puste Wal&er. .... 

In mile puste Walder seinen mir zulofen, 

In puste Qr&ber seinen mir verlofen. .... Oi weih, oi weihf . . . ." 

The recruiting agents hired by the Eahal or its " trustees," 
who received the nickname " hunters " or u captors," ' hunted 
down the fugitives, trailing them everywhere and capturing 
them for the purpose of making up the shortage. In default 
of a sufficient number of adults, little children, who were 
easier " catch," were seized, often enough in violation of the 
provision of the law. Even boys under the required age of 
twelve, sometimes no more than eight years old, were caught 
and offered as conscripts at the recruiting stations, their age 
being misstated. 4 , The agents perpetrated incredible cruelties. 
Houses were raided during the night, and children were torn 
from the arms of their mothers, or lured away and kidnapped. **■ 

[* Compare on the status of the burgher in Russian law vol. I, 
p. 308, n. 2. Nearly all the higher estates were exempt] 
[* When the ukase came down about Jewish soldiers, 
We all dispersed over the lonesome forests; 
Over the lonesome forests did we disperse, 

In lonesome pits did we hide ourselves Woe me, Woe! ] 

[» More literally " catchers "; in Yiddish Khapper*.] 
4 This was the more easy, as regular birth-registers were not yet 
In ffriffrt^ n ioft. 


After being captured, the Jewish conscripts were sent into 
the recruiting jail where they were kept in confinement until 
their examination at the recruiting station. The enlisted 
minors were turned over to a special officer to be dispatched 
to their places of destination, mostly in the Eastern provinces, 
including Siberia. For it must be noted that the cantonists 
were stationed almost to a man in the outlying Russian govern- 
•> ments, where they could be brought up at a safe distance from 
all Jewish influences. The unfortunate victims who were 
drafted into the army and deported to these far-off regions 
were mourned by their relatives as dead. During the au- 
tumnal season, when the recruits were drafted and deported, 
the streets of the Jewish towns resounded with moans. The 
juvenile cantonists were packed into wagons like so many 
sheep and carried off in batches under a military convoy. 
When they took leave of their dear ones it was for a quarter 
of a century; in the case of children it was for a longer term, 
too often it was good-bye for life. 

How these unfortunate youngsters were driven to their 
places of destination we learn from the description of Alex* 
ander Hertzen, 1 who chanced to meet a batch of Jewish can- 
tonists on his involuntary journey through Vyatka, in 1835. 
At one of the post stations in some God-forsaken village of 
the Vyatka government he met the escorting officer. The 
following dialogue ensued between the two : 

" Whom do you carry and to what place? " 

" Well, sir, you see, they got together a bunch of these accursed 
Jewish youngsters between the age of eight and nine. I suppose 
they are meant for the fleet, but how should I know? At first the 

I 1 Hertzen, a famous Russian writer (d. 1870), was exiled to the 
government of Vyatka for propagating liberal doctrines.] 


command was to drive them to Perm. Now there Is a change. We 
are told to drive them to Kazan. I hare had them on my hands 
for a hundred versts or thereabouts. The officer that turned them 
oyer to me told me they were an awful nuisance. A third of them 
remained on the road (at this the officer pointed with his finger 
to the around). Half of them will not get to their destination/' 
he added. 

" Epidemics, I suppose? ", I inquired, stirred to the very core. 

" No, not exactly epidemics; but they just fall like lies. Well, 
you know, these Jewish boys are so puny and delicate. They 
can't stand mixing dirt for ten hours, with dry biscuits to lire on. 
Again everywhere strange folks, no father, no mother, no caresses. 
Well then, you Just hear a cough and the youngster is dead. Hello, 
corporal, get out the small fry! " 

The little ones were assembled and arrayed in a military line. 
It was one of the most terrible spectacles I hare ever witnessed. 
Poor, poor children! The boys of twelve or thirteen managed 

somehow to stand up, but the little ones of eight and ten 

No brush, however black, could convey the terror of this scene on 
the canvas. 

Pale, worn out, with scared looks, this is the way they stood in 
their uncomfortable, rough soldier uniforms, with their starched, 
turned-up collars, fixing an inexpressibly helpless and pitiful gaze 
upon the garrisoned soldiers, who were handling them rudely. 
White lips, blue lines under the eyes betokened either fever or 
cold. And these poor children, without care, without a caress, 
exposed to the wind which blows unhindered from the Arctic 
Ocean, were marching to their death. I seized the officer's hand, 
and, with the words: "Take good care of them! ", threw myself 
Into my carriage. I felt like sobbing, and I knew I could net 
master myself 

The great Russian writer saw the Jewish cantonists on the 
road, but he knew nothing of what happened to them later 
on, in the recesses of the barracks into which they were driven. 
This terrible secret was revealed to the world at a later period 
by the few survivors among these martyred Jewish children. 


Haying arrived at their destination, the juvenile conscripts 
were put into the cantonist battalions. The " preparation for 
military service" began with their religious re-education at 
the hands of sergeants and corporals. No means was neglected 
so long as it bade fair to bring the children to the baptismal 
font The authorities refrained from giving formal instruc- 
tions, leaving everything to the zeal of the officers who knew 
the wishes of their superiors. The children were first sent 
for spiritual admonition to the local Greek-Orthodox priests, 
whose efforts, however, proved fruitless in nearly every case. 
They were then taken in hand by the sergeants and corporals 
who adopted military methods of persuasion. 

These brutal soldiers invented all kinds of tortures. A 
favorite procedure was to make the cantonists get down on 
their knees in the evening after all had gone to bed and to 
keep the sleepy children in that position for hours. Those 
who agreed to be baptised were sent to bed, those who refused 
were kept up the whole night till they dropped from exhaus- 
tion. The children who continued to hold their own were 
flogged and, under the guise of gymnastic exercises, subjected 
to all kinds of tortures. Those that refused to eat pork or the 
customary cabbage soup prepared with lard were beaten and 
left to starve. Others were fed on salted fish and then for- 
bidden to drink, until the little ones, tormented by thirst, 
agreed to embrace Christianity. 

The majority of these children, unable to endure the tortures 
inflicted on them, saved themselves by baptism. But many 
cantonists, particularly those of a maturer age (between 
fifteen and eighteen), bore their martyrdom with heroic 
patience. Beaten almost into senselessness, their bodies striped 
by lashes, tormented to the point of exhaustion by hunger, 


thirsty and sleeplessness, the lads declared again and again 
that they would not betray the faith of their fathers. Most 
of these obstinate youths were carried from the barracks into 
the military hospitals to be released by a kind death. Only 
a few remained alive. 

Alongside of this passive heroism there were cases of demon- 
strative martyrdom. One such incident has survived in the 
popular memory. The story goes that during a military 
parade & in the city of Kazan the battalion chief drew up all 
the Jewish cantonists on the banks of the river, where the 
Greek-Orthodox priests were standing in their vestments, and 
all was ready for the baptismal ceremony. At the command 
to jump into the water, the boys answered in military fashion 
"Aye, aye! n Whereupon they dived under and disappeared. 
When they were dragged out, they were dead. In most cases, 
however, these little martyrs suffered and died noiselessly, in 
the gloom of the guard-houses, barracks, and military hos- 
pitals. They strewed with their tiny bodies the roads that 
led into the outlying regions of the Empire, and those that 
managed to get there were fading away slowly in the barracks 
which had been turned into inquisitorial dungeons. This 
martyrdom of children, set in a military environment, repre- 
sents a singular phenomenon even in the extensive annals of 
Jewish martyrology. 

Such wps the lot of the juvenile cantonists. As for the 
adult recruits, who were drafted into the army at the normal 
age of conscription (18-25), their conversion to Christianity 
was not pursued by the same direct methods, but their fate 
was not a whit less tragic from the moment of their capture 
till the end of their grievous twenty-five years' service. Youths, 

* A variant of the legend speaks of a review by the Tzar himself* 


who had no knowledge of the Russian language, were torn 
away from the heder or yeshibah, often from wife and children. 
In consequence of the early marriages then in vogue, most 
youths at the age of eighteen were married. The impending 
separation for a quarter of a century, added to the danger of 
the soldier's apostasy or death in far-off regions, often dis- 
rupied the family ties. Many reeruits, before entering upon 
their military career, gave their wives a divorce so as not to 
doom them to perpetual widowhood. 

At the end of 1834 rumors began to spread among the 
Jewish masses concerning a law which was about to be issued 
forbidding early marriages but exempting from conscription 
those married prior to the promulgation of the law. A panic 
ensued. Everywhere feverish haste was displayed in marrying 
off boys from ten to fifteen years old to girls of an equally 
tender age. Within a few months there appeared in every 
city hundreds and thousands of such couples, whose marital 
relations were often confined to playing with nuts or bones. 
The misunderstanding which had caused this senseless matri- 
monial panic or beholoh? as it was afterwards popularly 
called, was cleared up by the publication, on April 13, 1835, 
of the new " Statute on the Jews/ 9 To be sure, the new law 
contained a clause forbidding marriages before the age of 
eighteen, but it offered no privileges for those already married, 
so that the only result of the beholoh was to increase the num- 
ber of families robbed by conscription of their heads and 

The years of military service were spent by the grown-up 
Jewish soldiers amidst extraordinary hardships. They were 
beaten and ridiculed because of their inability to express them- 

[ a A Hebrew word, also used in Tiddish, meaning fright, panic.1 


selves in Russian, their refusal to eat trefa, and their general 
lade of adaptation to the strange environment and to the 
military mode of life. And even when this process of adapta- 
tion was finally accomplished, the Jewish soldier was never 
promoted beyond the position of a non-commissioned under- 
officer, baptism being the inevitable stepping-stone to a higher 
irank. True, the Statute on Military Service promised those 
j Jewish soldiers who had completed their term in the army 
with distinction admission to the civil sendee, but the promise 
remained on paper so long as the candidates were loyal to 
Judaism. On the contrary, the Jews who had completed their 
military service and had in most cases become invalids were 
not even allowed to spend the rest of their lives in the localities 
outside the Pale, in which they had been stationed as soldiers. 
Only at a later period, during the reign of Alexander IL, 
was this right accorded to the " Nicholas soldiers " x and their 

The full weight of conscription fell upon the poorest classes 
of the Jewish population, the so-called burgher estate, 9 con- 
sisting of petty artisans and those impoverished tradesmen 
who could not afford to enrol in the mercantile guilds, though 
there are cases on record where poor Jews begged from door 
to door to collect a sufficient sum of money for a guild certi- 
ficate in order to save their children from military service. 
The more or less well-to-do were exempted from conscription 
either by virtue of their mercantile status or because of their 
connections with the Kahal leaders who had the power of 
selecting the victims. 

[* In Russian, Nikolayevslctye soldaty, i. &, those that had served 
in the army during the reign of Nicholas IJ 
£»See above, p. 23, n. 2L] 


4. The Policy op Expulsions 

In all lands of Western Europe the introduction of personal 
.military service for the Jews was either accompanied or pre- 
ceded by their emancipation. At all events, it was followed 
'by some mitigation of their disabilities, serving, so to speak, 
as an earnest of the grant of equal rights. Even in clerical 
Austria, the imposition of military duty upon the Jews was 
preceded by the Tolerant Patent, this would-be Act of Eman- 
cipation. 1 

In Bussia the very reverse took place. The introduction 
of military conscription of a most aggravating kind and the 
unspeakable cruelties attending its practical execution were 
followed, in the case of the Jews, by an unprecedented re- 
crudescence of legislative discrimination and a monstrous 
increase of their disabilities. The Jews were lashed with a 
double knout, a military and a civil. In the same ill-fated 
year which saw the promulgation of the conscription statute, 
barely three months after it had received the imperial sanc- 
tion, while the moans of the Jews, fasting and praying to 
God to deliver them from the calamity, were still echoing in 
.the synagogues, two new ukases were issued, both signed on 
[December 2, 1827 — the one decreeing the transfer of the Jews 
from all villages and village inns in the government of Grodno 
into the towns and townlets, the other ordering the banishment 
of all Jewish residents from the city of Kiev. 

The expulsion from the Grodno villages was the continua- 
tion of the policy of the rural liquidation of Jewry, inaugu- 

[* Military service was imposed upon the Jews of Austria by the 
law of 17S7. Several years previously, on January 2, 1782, Em- 
peror Joseph II. had issued his famous Toleration Act, removing 
a number of Jewish disabilities and opening the way to their 
assimilation with the environment Nevertheless, most of the 
former restrictions remained in force.] 


% rated in 1823 in White Bussia. 1 The Grodno province was 
merely meant to serve as a starting point. Grand Duke 
Constantine/ who had brought tip the question, was ordered 
"at first to carry out the expulsion in the government of 
Grodno alone/' and to postpone for a later occasion the ap- 
plication of the same measure to the other "governments 
entrusted to his command." Simultaneously considerable 
foresight was displayed in instructing the grand duke to wait 
with the expulsion of the Jews " until the conclusion of the 
military conscription going on at present." Evidently there 
was some fear of disorders and complications. It was thought 
wiser to seize the children for the army first and then to expel 
the parents — to get hold of the young birds and then to destroy 
the nest. 

The expulsion from Kiev was of a different order. It 
marked the beginning of a new system, the narrowing down 
of the urban area allotted to the Jews within the Pale of 
Settlement. Since 1794 * the Jews had been allowed to settle 
in Kiev freely. They had formed there, with official sanction, 
an important community and had vastly developed commerce 
and industry. Suddenly, however, the Government discovered 
that "their presence is detrimental to the industry of this 
city and to the exchequer in general, and is, moreover, at 
variance with the rights and privileges conferred at different 
periods upon the city of Kiev." The discovery was followed 
by a grim rescript from St. Petersburg, forbidding not only 

* It may be remarked here that the principal enactments of that 
period, down to 1835, were drafted in their preliminary stage 
by the " Jewish Committee " established in 1823. [See vol. I, p. 407 
et seqJ] 

['Commander-in-Chief of the former Polish provinces. See 
p. 16, n. 2.] 

[» See vol. I, p. 817.] 


the further settlement of Jews in Kiev but also prescribing 
that even those settled there long ago should leave the city 
within one year, those owning immovable property within 
two years. Henceforward only the temporary sojourn of 
Jews, for a period not exceeding six months, was to be per- 
mitted and to be limited, moreover, to merchants of the first two 
guilds who arrive " in connection with contracts and fairs » 
or to attend to public bids and deliveries. 

In 1829 the whip of expulsion cracked over the backs of the 
Jews dwelling on the shores of the Baltic and the Black Sea. 
In Courland and Livonia measures were taken "looking to 
the reduction of the number of Jews " which had been con- 
«idferably swelled by the influx of " newcomers " — of Jews not 
born in those provinces and therefore having no right to settle 
there. The Tzar endorsed the proposal of the " Jewish Com- 
mittee " to transfer from Courland all Jews not born there 
into the cities in which their birth was registered. Those 
not yet registered in a municipality outside the province were 
granted a half-year's respite for that purpose. If within the 
prescribed term they failed to attend to their registration, 
they were to be sent to the army, or, in case of unfitness for 
military service, deported to Siberia. 

In the same year an imperial ukase declared that "the 
residence of civilian Jews in the cities of Sevastopol and 
Nicholayev was inconvenient and injurious," in view of the 
military and naval importance of these places, and therefore 
decreed the expulsion of their Jewish residents: those 
owning real property within two years, the others within one 
year. By a new ukase issued in 1830 the Jews were expelled 
from the villages and hamlets of the government of Kiev. 
Thus were human beings hurled about from village to town > 



from city to city, from province to province, with no more 
concern than might be displayed in the transportation of 

This process of "mobilization" had reached its climax 
when the Polish insurrection of 1830-1831 broke out, affect- 
ing the whole Western region/ Fearing lest the persecuted 
Jews might be driven into the arms of the Poles, the Govern- 
ment decided on a strategic retreat In February, 1831, in 
consequence of the representations of the local military com- 
mander, who urged the Government " to take into considera- 
tion the present political circumstances, in which they (the 
Jews) may occasionally prove useful," the final expulsion of 
the Jews from Kiev was postponed for three years. At the 
end of the three years, the governor of Kiev made similar 
representations to St Petersburg, emphasizing the desirability 
of allowing the Jews to remain in the city, even though it might 
become necessary to segregate them in a special quarter, " this 
(t. e., their remaining in the city) being found useful also in 
this respect that, on account of their temperate and simp}* 
habits of life, they are in a position to sell their goods con- 
siderably cheaper, whereas in the case of their expulsion mangi 
articles and manufactures will rise in price." Nicholas I. 
rejected this plea, and only agreed to postpone the expulsion 
until February, 1835, for the reason that the new " Statute 
Concerning the Jews," then in preparation, which was to 
define the general legal status of Russian Jewry, was expected 
to be ready by that time. Similar short reprieves were granted 
to the Jews about to be exiled from Nicholayev, from the 
villages of the government of Kiev, and from other places- 

[ x See above, p. 16, n. 1*] 


S. The Codification of Jewish Disabilities 

No sooner had the conscription ukase been issued than the 
bureaucrats of St Petersburg began to apply themselves in 
the hidden recesses of their chancelleries to a new civil code 
for the Jews, which was to supersede the antiquated Statute 
of 1804. The work passed through a number of departments. 
.The projected enactment was framed by the "Jewish Com- 
^mittee," which had been established in 1823 for the purpose 
of bringing about "a reduction of the number of Jews in 
the monarchy," and consisted of cabinet ministers and the 
chiefs of departments. 1 Originally the department chiefs had 
elaborated a draft covering 1230 clauses, a gigantic code of 
disabilities, evidently founded on the principle that in the 
case of Jews everything is forbidden which is not permitted 
by special legislation. The dimensions of the draft were such 
that even the Government was appalled and decided to turn 
it over to the ministerial members of the Committee. 

Modified in shape and reduced in size, the code was sub- 
mitted in 1834 to the Department of Laws forming part of the 
Council of State, and after careful discussion by the Depart- 
ment of Laws was brought up at the plenary sessions of the 
Council. The " ministerial " draft, though smaller in bulk, 
was marked by such severity that the Department of Laws 
found it necessary to tone it down. The ministers, with the 
exception of the Minister of Finance, had proposed to transfer 
all Jews, within a period of three years, from the villages to 
the towns and townlets. The Department of Laws considered 
this measure too risky, pointing to the White Russian expul- 
sion of 1823, which had failed to produce the expected results, 
and, "while it has ruined the Jews, it does not in the least 

X* See toL X, p. 407 et «««.! 


seem to have improved the condition of the villagers" * The 
plenum of the Council agreed with the Department of Laws 
that " the proposed expulsion of the Jews (from the villages), 
being extremely difficult of execution and being of problematic 
benefit, should be eliminated from the Statute and should be 
stopped even there where it had been decreed but not carried 
into effect" 

The report was laid before the Tzar, who attached to it the 
following " resolution " : * " Where this measure (of expulsion) 
has been started, it is inconvenient to repeal it; but it shall be 
postponed fox the time being in the governments in which no 
steps towards it have as yet been made." For a number of 
years this " resolution " hung like the sword of Damocles over 
the head* of rural Jewry. 

Less yielding was the Tzar's attitude on the question of the 
partial enlargement of the Pale of Settlement. The Depart- 
ment of Laws had suggested to grant the merchants of the first 
guild the right of residence in the Sussian interior in the 
interest of the exchequer and big business. At the general 
meeting of the Council of State only a minority (thirteen) 
voted for the proposal. The majority (twenty-two) argued 
that they had no right to violate the time-honored tradition, 
" dating from the time of Peter the Great," which bars the 
Jews from the Russian interior; that to admit them " would 
produce a very unpleasant impression upon our people, which, 
on account of its religious notions and its general estimate of 
the moral peculiarities of the Jews, has become accustomed 
to keep aloof from them and to despise them;" that the 

[* Compare vol. I, p. 407.] 

t*See on the meaning of the term "resolution" vol. I, p. 263, 


countries of Western Europe, which had accorded full citizen- 
ship to the Jews, "cannot serve as an example for Bussia, 
partly because of the incomparably larger number of Jews 
living here, partly because our Government and people, with 
all their well-known tolerance, are yet far from that indiffer- 
ence with which certain other nations look upon religious 
matters/' After marking his approval of the last words by 
the marginal exclamation " Thank Qod ! ", the Tzar disposed 
of the whole matter in the following brief resolution : " This 
question has been determined by Peter the Great. I dare 
not change it; I completely share the opinion of the twenty- 
two members." 

While on this occasion the Tzar endorsed the opinion of 
the Council as represented by its majority, in cases in which 
it proved favorable to the Jews he did not hesitate to set it 
aside. Thus the Department of Laws, as part of the Council 
of State, and, following in its wake, the Council itself had 
timidly suggested to Nicholas to comply in part with the plea 
of the Jews for a mitigation of the rigors of conscription, 1 
but the imperial verdict read: "To be left as heretofore." 
Nicholas remained equally firm on the question of the expul- 
sions from Kiev. The Department of Laws, guided by the 
previously-mentioned representations of the local governor, 
f avorei the postponement of the expulsion, and fourteen mem- 
bers of the plenary Council agreed with the suggestion of 
the Department, and resolved to reeommend it to the " benevo- 
lent consideration of his Majesty," in other words to request 
the Tzar to revoke the baneful ukase. But fifteen members 

*The Kahal of Vilna, in a memorandum submitted in 1836, 
pleaded for the abolition of the dreadful institution of cantonists, 
and begged that the age limit of Jewish recruits be raised from 
12-15 to 20-35. 


rejected all such proportions on the ground that, as far as 
that question was concerned, the imperial will was unmis- 
takable, the Tzar having decided the matter in a sense unfavor- 
able to the Jews. In a similar manner, numerous other decis- 
ions of the Council of State were dictated not so much by inner 
conviction as by fear of the clearly manifested imperial will, 
which no one dared to cross. 

Under these circumstances, the entire draft of the statute 
passed through the Council of State. In its session of March 
28, 1835, the Council voted to submit it to the emperor for 
his signature. On this occasion a solitary and belated voice 
was raised in defence of the Jews, without evoking an echo. 
A member of the Council, Admiral Greig, who was brave 
enough to swim against the current, submitted a "special 
opinion' 9 on the proposed statute, in which he advocated a 
number of alleviations in the intolerable legal status of the 
Jews. Greig put the whole issue in a nut-shell : " Are the 
Jews to be suffered in the country, or not?" If they are, 
then we must abandon the system "of hampering them in 
their actions and in their religious customs " and grant them 
at least " equal liberty of commerce with the others/' for in 
this case " we may anticipate more good from their gratitude 
than from their hatred/' Should, however, the conclusion be 
reached that the Jews ought not to be tolerated in Kussia, 
then the only thing to be done is " to banish them all without 
exception from the country into foreign lands." This might 
be "more useful than to allow this estate to remain in the 
country and to keep it in a position which is bound to arouse 
in them continual dissatisfaction and resentment." It need 
scarcely be added that the voice of the "queer" admiral 
found no hearing. 


Nor did the Jewish people manage to get a hearing. Stunned 
by the uninterrupted succession of blows and moved by the 
spirit of martyrdom, Russian Jewry kept its peace during 
those dismal years. Yet, when the news of an impending 
general regulation of the Jewish legal status began to leak 
out, a section of Russian Jewry became astir. For to antici- 
pate a blow is more excruciating than to receive one, and it 
was quite natural that an attempt should be made to stay the 
hand which was lifted to strike. Towards the end of 1833 the 
Council of State received, as part of the material bearing on 
the Jewish question, two memoranda, one from the Kahal of 
Vilna, signed by six elders, and another from Litman Feigin 
of Chernigov, well known in administrative circles as merchant 
and public contractor. 

The Kahal of Vilna declared that the repressive policy, 
pursued during the last few years by the u Jewish Committee," 
had thrown a large part of the Jewish people " into utmost 
disorder," and had made the Jews " shiver and shudder at 
the thought that a general Jewish statute had been drafted 
by the same Committee and had now been submitted to the 
Council of State for revision." The petitioners go on to say 
that, weighed down by a succession of cruel discriminations 
affecting not only their rights but also their mode of discharg- 
ing military service, the Jews would succumb to utter despair, 
did they not repose their hopes in the benevolence of the Tzar, 
who, on his recent trip through the Western provinces, had 
expressed to the deputies of the Jewish communes his imperial 
satisfaction with the loyalty to the throne displayed by the 
Jews during the Polish insurrection of 1831. The Kahal of 
Vilna, therefore, implored the Council of State "to turn its 
attention to this unfortunate and maligned people" and to 
stop all further persecutions. 



A more emphatic note of protest is sounded in the memo- 
randum of Feigin. By a string of references to the latest 
Government measures he demonstrates the fact that "the 
Jewish people is hunted down, not because of its moral *' 
qualities but because of its faith/' 

The Jews, faced by the new statute, hare lost all hope for a 
better lot, Inasmuch as the Government has embarked upon this 
measure without having solicited the explanations or justifications 
of this people, whereas, according to common legal procedure, 
even an individual may not be condemned without having been 
called upon to justify himself. 

The rebuke had no effect The Government preferred to 
render its verdict in absentia, without listening to counsel for 
the defence and without any safeguards of fair play. In line 
with this attitude, it also denied the petition of the Yilna 
Kahal to be allowed "to send at least four deputies to the 
capital as spokesmen of the entire Jewish people for the pur- 
pose of submitting to the Government their explanations and 
propositions concerning the reorganization of the Jews, after 
having been presented with a draft of the statute." The final 
verdict was pronounced in the spring of 1835, and in April the 
new " Statute concerning the Jews " received the signature 
of the Tzar. 

This "Charter of Disabilities/' which was destined to 
operate for many decades, represents a combination of the 
Bussian " ground laws " concerning the Jews and the restric- 
tive by-laws issued after 1804. The Pale of Settlement was 
now accurately defined: it consisted of Lithuania 1 and the 
South-western provinces/ without any territorial restrictions, 

I 1 The present governments of Kovno, Viloa, Grodno, and Minsk.] 
[* The governments of Volhynia and PodoliaJ 


White Russia * minus the villages, Little Russia * minus the 
crown hamlets, New Russia * minus Nicholayev and Sevastopol, 
the government of Kiev minus the city of Kiev, the Baltic prov- 
inces far the old settlers only, while the rural settlements on the 
entire fifty-verst zone along the Western frontier were to 
be closed to newcomers. As for the interior provinces, only tem- 
porary " furloughs " (limited to six weeks and to be certified by 
gubernatorial passports) were to be granted for the execution 
of judicial and commercial affairs, with the proviso that the 
travellers should wear Bussian instead of Jewish dress. The 
merchants affiliated with the first and second guilds were 
allowed, in addition, to visit the two capitals, 4 the sea-ports, 
as well as the fairs of Nizhni-Novgorod, Kharkov, and other 
big fairs for wholesale buying or selling.* 
i The Jews were further forbidden to employ Christian domes- 
tics for permanent employment They could hire Christians 
for occasional services only, on condition that the latter live in 
separate quarters. Marriages at an earlier age than eighteen 
for the bridegroom and sixteen for the bride were forbidden 
under the pain of imprisonment — a prohibition which the 
defective registration of births and marriages then in vogue 
made it easy to evade. The language to be employed by the 
Jews in their public documents was to be Bussian or any other 
local dialect, but "under no circumstances the Hebrew 
language/ 9 

V The governments of Vitebsk and Moghilev.] 

[ a The governments of Chernigov and Poltava.] 

[•The governments of Kherson, Yekaterlnoelav, Tavrida, and 

[* St. Petersburg and Moscow.] 

* The time-limit was six months for the merchants of the first 
guild and three months for those of the second. 


The function of the Kahal, according to the Statute, is to see 
to it that the " instructions of the authorities " are carried out 
precisely and that the state taxes and communal assessments 
are " correctly remitted." The Kahal elders are to he elected 
by the community every three years from among persons who 
can read and write Russian, subject to their being ratified by 
the gubernatorial administration. At the dame time the Jews 
are entitled to participation in the municipal elections; those 
who can read and write Russian are eligible as members of 
the town councils and magistracies — the supplementary law of 
1836 fixed the rate at one-third/ excepting the city of Vilna 
where the Jews were entirely excluded from municipal self- 

Synagogues may not be built in the vicinity of churches. 
The Eussian schools of all grades are to be open to Jewish 
children, who " are not compelled to change their religion " 
(Clause 106) — a welcome provision in view of the compulsory 
methods which had then become habitual. The coercive bap- 
tism of Jewish children was provided for in a separate enact- 
ment, the Statute on Conscription, which is declared "to 
remain in force/' In this way the Statute of 1835 reduces 
itself to a codification of the whole mass of the preceding anti- 
Jewish legislation. Its only positive feature was that it put a 
stop to the expulsion from the villages which had ruined the 
Jewish population during the years 1804-1830. 

6. Tex Eussian Censorship and Conykrsionist 


With all its discriminations, the promulgation of this 
general statute was far from checking the feverish activity 
of the Government. With indefatigable zeal, its hands went 

[* Compare vol. I, p. 368.] 


on turning the legislative wheel and squeezing ever tighter 
the already unbearable vise of Jewish life. The slightest 
attempt to escape from its pressure was punished ruthlessly. 
In 1838 the police of St. Petersburg discovered a group of 
Jews in the capital "with expired passports," these Jews 
having extended their stay there a little beyond the term 
fixed for Jewish travellers, and the Tzar curtly decreed : " to 
be sent to serve in the penal companies of Kronstadt." l In 
1840 heavy fines were imposed upon the landed proprietors 
in the Great Bussian governments for (S keeping oyer " Jews 
on their estates. 

Considerable attention was bestowed by the Government on 
placing the spiritual life of the Jews under police supervision. 
In 1836 a censorship campaign was launched against Hebrew 
literature. Hebrew books, which were then almost exclusively 
of a religious nature, such as prayer-books. Bible and Talmud 
editions, rabbinic, cabalistic and hasidic writings, were then 
issuing from the printing presses of Vilna, Slavuta/ and other 
places, and were subject to a rigorous censorship exercised by 
Christians or by Jewish converts. Practically every Jewish 
home-library consisted of religious works of this type. The 
suspicions of the Government were aroused by certain Jewish 
converts who had insinuated that the foreign editions of these 
works and those that had appeared in Eussia itself prior to 
the establishment of a censorship were of an " injurious w 
character. As a result, all Jewish home-libraries were sub- 
jected to a search. Orders were given to deliver into the 
hands of the local police, in the course of that year, all foreign 
Hebrew prints as well as the uncensored editions, published at 

[* A fortress in the vicinity of St Petersburg.] 
[ a A town in Volhynia.] 


any previous time in Bussia, and to entrust their revision to 
" dependable " rabbis. These rabbis were instructed to put 
their stamp on the books approved by them and return the 
books not approved by them to the police for transmission to 
the Ministry of the Interior. The regulation involved the 
entire ancient Hebrew literature printed during the sixteenth, 
seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, prior to the establish- 
ment of the Bussian censorship. In order to " facilitate the 
supervision " over new publications or reprints from older 
editions, all Jewish printing presses which existed at that 
time in various cities and towns were ordered closed, and 
only those of Vilna and Kiev, 1 to which special censors were 
attached, were allowed to remain. 

As the Hebrew authors of antiquity or the Middle Ages did 
not fully anticipate the requirements of the Bussian censors, 
many classic works were found to contain passages which were 
thought to be " at variance with imperial enactments/* By 
the ukase of 1836 all books of this kind, circulating in tens 
of thousands of copies, had to be transported to St. Petersburg 
under a police escort to await their final verdict. The pro- 
cedure, however, proved too cumbersome, and, m 1837, the 
emperor, complying with the petitions of the governors, was 
graciously pleased to command that all these books be "de- 
livered to the flames on the spot/ 9 This auto-darfe was to 
be witnessed by a member of the gubernatorial administration 
and a special "dependable" official dispatched by the gov- 
ernor for the sole purpose of making a report to the central 
Government on every literary conflagration of this kind and 
forwarding to the Ministry of the Interior one copy of each 
"annihilated" book. 

*The printing-press of Kiev was subsequently transferred to 


But even this was not enough to satisfy the hurt of the 
Bussian censorship. It was now suspected that even the 
" dependable " rabbis might pass many a book as " harmless," 
though its contents were subversive of the public weal. As a 
result, a new ukase was issued in 1841, placing the rabbinical 
censors themselves under Government control. All uncensured 
books, including those already passed as "harmless/' were 
ordered to be taken away from the private libraries and for- 
warded to the censorship committees in Vilna and Kiev. The 
latter were instructed to attach their seals to the approved 
books and " deliver to the flames " the books condemned by 
them. Endless wagonloads of these confiscated books could 
be seen moving towards Vilna and Kiev, and for many years 
afterwards the literature of the " People of the Book/' covering 
a period of three TnilleniumB, was still languishing in the gaol 
of censorship, waiting to be saved from or to be sentenced to 
a fiery death by a Bussian official. 

It is almost unnecessary to add that the primitive method 
of solving the Jewish problem by means of conversion was 
still the guiding principle of the Government The Bussian 
legislation of that period teems with regulations concerning 
apostasy. The surrender of the Synagogue to the Church 
seemed merely a question of time. In reality, however, the 
Government itself believed but half-heartedly in the sincerity 
of the converted Jews. In 1827 the Tzar put down in his 
own handwriting the following resolution: "It is to be 
strictly observed that the baptismal ceremony shall take place 
unconditionally on a Sunday, and with all possible publicity, so 
as to remove all suspicion of a pretended adoption of Christi- 
anity/' Subsequently, this watchfulness had to be relaxed in 
the case of those "who avoid publicity in adopting Christi- 


anity/* more especially in the ease of the cantonists, "who 
have declared their willingness to embrace the orthodox faith " 
— under the effect, we may add, of the tortures in the barracks. 
Sincerity under these circumstances was out of the question, 
and, in 1831, the battalion chaplains were authorized to baptize 
these helpless creatures, even "without applying for per- 
mission to the ecclesiastical authorities." 

The barrack missionaries were frequently successful among 
these unfortunate military prisoners. In the imperial re- 
scripts of that period the characteristic expression " privates 
from among the Jews remaining- in His abons faith " figures 
as a standing designation for that group of refractory and 
incorrigible soldiers who disturbed the officially pre-established 
harmony of epidemic conversions by remaining loyal to Juda- 
ism. But among the "civilian" Jews, who had not been 
detached from their Jewish environment, apostasy was extraor- 
dinarily rare, and law after law was promulgated in vain, offer- 
ing privileges to converts or leniency to criminals who were 
ready to embrace the orthodox creed. 1 

* Under Clause 157 of the Russian Penal Code of 1845, the penalty 
of the law was softened, not only in degree but also in kind, for 
those criminals who had embraced the Greek-Orthodox faith 
during the investigation or trial. 




1. Enlightenment as a Means of Assimilation 

There was a brief moment of respite when, in the phrase 
of the Russian poet, " the fighter's hand was tired of killing." 
The Russian Government suddenly felt the need of passing 
over from the medieval forms of patronage to more enlightened 
and perfected methods. Among the leading statesmen of 
Russia were men, such as the Minister of Public Instruction, 
Sergius Uvaiov, who were well acquainted with Western 
European ways and fully aware of the fact that the reactionary 
governments of Austria and Prussia had invented several 
contrivances for handling the Jewish problem which might be 
usefully applied in their own country. Though anxious to 
avoid all contact with the. " rotten West," and being in con- 
stant fear of European political movements, the Russian Gov- 
ernment was nevertheless ready to seize upon the relics of 
"enlightened absolutism " which were still stalking about, 
particularly in Austria, in the early decades of the nineteenth 
century. As far as Prussia was concerned, the abundance of 
assimilated and converted Jews in that country and their 
attempts at religious reform, which to a missionary's imagina- 
tion were identical with a change of front in favor of Christi- 
anity, had a fascination of its own for the Russian dignitaries. 
No wonder then that the Government yielded to the temptation 
to use some of the contrivances of Western European reaction, 
while holding in reserve the police knout of genuine Russian 


In 1840 the Council of State was again busy discussing the 
Jewish question, this time from a theoretic point of view. The 
reports of the provincial administrators, in particular that of 
Bibikov, governor-general of Kiev, dwelled on the fact that 
even the " Statute " of 1835 had not succeeded in " correcting * 
the Jews. The root of the evil lay rather in their " religious 
fanaticism and separatism," which could only be removed by 
changing their inner life. The Ministers of Public Instruc- 
tion and of the Interior, Uvarov and Stroganov, took occasion 
to expound the rprinciples of their new system of correction 
before the Council of State. The discussions culminated in 
a remarkable memorandum submitted by the Council to 
Nicholas L^~ 

In this document the Government confesses its impotence 
in grappling with the " defects " of the Jewish masses, such 
bb "the absence of useful labor, their harmful pursuit of 
petty trading, vagrancy, and obstinate aloofness from general 
civic life." Its failure the Government ascribes to the fact 
that the evil of Jewish delusiveness has hitherto not been 
attacked at its root, the latter being imbedded in the religious 
and communal organization of the Jews. The fountain-head 
of all misfortunes is the Talmud, which " fosters in the Jews 
utmost contempt towards the nations of other faiths," and 
implants in than the desire "to rule over the rest of the 
world." As a result of the obnoxious teachings of the Talmud, 
" the Jews cannot but regard their presence in any other land 
except Palestine as a sojourn in captivity," and "they are 
held to obey their own authorities rather than a strange 
government." This explains " the omnipotence of the Kahals," 
which, contrary to the law of the state, employ secret means 
to uphold their autonomous authority both in communal and 


judicial matters, using for this purpose the uncontrolled sums 
of the special Jewish revenue, the meat tax. The education 
of the Jewish youth is entrusted to melammeds, " a class of 
domestic teachers immersed in profoundest ignorance and 
superstition," and, "under the influence of these fanatics, 
the children imbibe pernicious notions of intolerance towards 
other nations." Finally, the special dress worn by the Jews 
helps to keep them apart from the surrounding Christian 

The Russian Government " had adopted a series of protec- 
tive measures against the Jews/' without producing any 
marked effect. Even the Conscription Statute "had suc- 
ceeded to a limited extent only in altering the habits of the 
Jews." Mere promotion of agriculture and of Sussian school- 
ing had been found inadequate. The expulsions from the 
villages had proved equally fruitless; "the Jews, to be sure, 
have been ruined, but the condition of the rustics has shown 
no improvement." 

It is evident, therefore — the Council declares — that restrictions 
which go only half way or are externally imposed by the police are 
not sufficient to direct this huge mass of people towards useful 
occupations. With the patience of martyrs the Jews of Western 
Europe had endured the most atrocious persecutions, and had 
yet succeeded in keeping their national type intact until the 
governments took the trouble to Inquire more deeply into the 
causes separating the Jews from general civic life, so as to be 
able to attack the causes themselves. 

After blurting out the truth that the Government's ultimate 
aim was the obliteration of the Jewish individuality, and mod- 
estly yielding the palm in inflicting " the most atrocious per- 
secutions " upon the Jews to Western Europe, where after all 
they were receding into the past, while in Russia they were 


still the order of the day, the Council of State proceeds to 
consider " the example set by foreign countries/' and lingers 
with particular affection orer the Prussian Regulation of 1797 
issued by that country for its recently occupied Polish prov- 
inces — the Prussian Emancipation Edict of 1813 the mem- 
orandum very shrewdly passes over in silence— and on the 
system of compulsory schooling adopted by Austria. 

Taking its clue from the West, the Council delineates three 
ways of bringing about "a radical transformation of this 
people ": 

1. Cultural reforms, such as the establishment of special 
secular schools for the Jewish youth, the fight against the 
old-fashioned heders and melammeds, the transformation of 
the rabbinate, and the prohibition of Jewish dress. 

2. Abolition of Jewish autonomy, consisting in the dissolu- 
tion of the Kahals and the modification of the system of special 
Jewish taxation. 

3. Increase of Jewish disabilities, by segregating from their 
midst all those who have no established domicile and are with- 
out a definite financial status, with a view of subjecting them 
to disciplinary correction through expulsions, legal restric- 
tions, intensified conscription, and similar police measures. 

In this manner — the memorandum concludes— It may be hoped 
that by coordinating all the particulars of this proposition with 
the fundamental idea of reforming the Jewish people, and by 
taking compulsory measures to aid, the goal of the Government 
win be attained. 

As a result of this expose of the Council of State, an imperial 
rescript was issued on December 27, 1840, calling for the 
establishment of a " Committee for Defining Measures looking 
to the Radical Transformation of the Jews of Russia." Count 


Kiselev, Minister of the Crown Domains, was appointed chair- 
man. The other members included the Ministers of Public 
Instruction and the Interior, the Assistant-Minister of Finance, 
the Director of the Second Section of the imperial chancellery, 
and the Chief of the Political Police, or the dreaded a Third 
Section/' 1 The latter was entrusted with the special task 
" to keep a watchful eye on the intrigues and actions which 
may be resorted to by the Jews during the execution of this 

Moreover, the expose of the Council of State, which was to 
serve as the program of the new Committee, was sent out to 
the governors-general of the Western region " f * confidentially, 
for personal information and consideration" The reformatory 
campaign against the Jews was thus started without any 
formal declaration of war, under the guise of secrecy and 
surrounded by police precautions. The procedure to be fol- 
lowed by the Committee was to consider the project in the 
order indicated in the memorandum : first " enlightenment/' 
then abolition of autonomy, and finally disabilities. 


An elaborate expose on the question of enlightenment was 
composed and laid before the Committee by the Minister of 
Public Instruction, Sergius Uvarov. Having acquired the 
ion ton of Western Europe, Uvarov prefaces his statement 
by the remark that the European governments have abandoned 
the method of " persecution and compulsion " in solving the 
Jewish question and that "this period has also arrived for 
us." "Nations," observes Uvarov, "are not exterminated, 

[ a See p. 21, n. L] 

[* See above, p. 16, n. L] 


least of all the nation which stood at the foot of Calvary." 
From what follows, it seems evident that the Minister is still 
in hopes that the gentle measures of enlightenment may 
attract the Jews towards the religion which derives its origin 
from Calvary. 

The best among the Jews — he states— are conscious of the fact 
that one of the principal causes of their humiliation lies In the 
perverted interpretation of their religious traditions, that .... 
the Talmud demoralised and continues to demoralize their co- 
religionists. But nowhere is the influence of the Talmud so potent 
as among us (in Russia) and in the Kingdom of Poland. 1 This 
influence can be counteracted only by enlightenment, and the 
Government can do no better than to act in the spirit that animates 
the handful of the best among them. .... The re-education of 
the learned section among the Jews involves at the same time 
the purification of their religious conceptions. 

What u purification " the anthor of the memorandum has 
in mind may be gathered from his casual remark that the Jews, 
who maintain their separatism, are rightly afraid of reforms : 
"for is not the religion of the Cross the purest symbol of 
universal citizenship ?" This, however, Uvarov cautiously 
adds, should not be made public, for " it would have no other 
effect except that of arousing from the very beginning the 
opposition of the majority of the Jews against the (projected) 

Officially the reform must confine itself to the opening in 
all the cities of the Jewish Pale of elementary and secondary 
schools in which Jewish children should be taught the Bussian 
language, secular sciences, Hebrew, and "religion, according 
to the Holy Writ." The instruction should be given in Bus- 
sian, though, owing to the shortage in teachers familiar with 

[ l See on the meaning of the latter term voL I, p. 390, n. L] 


ibis language, the use of German is to be admitted temporarily. 
The teachers in the low-grade schools shall provisionally be 
recruited from among melammeds who "can be depended 
upon "; those in the higher-grade schools shall be chosen from 
among the modernized Jews of Bussia and Germany. 

The Committee endorsed Uvarov's scheme in its principal 
features, and urgently recommended that, in order to prepare 
the Jewish masses for the impending reform, a special propa- 
gandist be sent into the Pale of Settlement for the purpose of 
acquainting this obstreperous nation with "the benevolent 
intentions of the Government" Such a propagandist was soon 
found in the person of a young German Jew, Dr. Max Iilien- 
thal, a resident of Riga. 

Lilienthal, who was a native of Bavaria (he was born in 
Munich in 1815) and a German university graduate, was a 
typical representative of the German Jewish intellectuals of 
that period, a champion of assimilation and of moderate re- 
ligious reform. Lilienthal had scarcely completed his univer- 
sity course, when he was offered by a group of educated Jews 
in Biga the post of preacher and director of the new local 
Jewish school, one of the three modern Jewish schools then in 
existence in Bussia. 1 In a short time Lilienthal managed to 
raise the instruction in secular and Jewish subjects to such 
a high standard of modernity that he elicited a glowing tribute 
from Uvaiov. The Minister was struck by the idea that the 
Biga school might serve as a model for the net of schools with 
which he was about to cover the whole Pale of Settlement, and 
lilienthal seemed the logical man for carrying out the planned 

1 The other two schools were located in Odessa and in Kishinev. 


In February, 1841, Lilicnthal was summoned to St. Peters- 
burg, where he had a prolonged conversation with Uvarov. 
According to the testimony of the official Russian sources, he 
tried to persuade the Minister to abolish all " private schools/' 
the heders, and to forbid all private teachers, the melammeds, 
to teach even temporarily in the projected new schools, and to 
import, instead, the whole teaching staff from Germany. Lili- 
enthal himself tells us in his Memoirs that he made bold to 
remind the Minister that all obstacles in the path of the desired 
re-education of the Bussian Jews would disappear, were the 
Tzar to grant them complete emancipation. To this the 
Minister retorted that the initiative must come from the Jews 
themselves who first must try to * deserve the favor of the 
Sovereign.'* At any rate, Lilienthal accepted the proffered 
task. He was commissioned to tour the Pale of Settlement, 
to organize there the few isolated progressive Jews, " the lovers 
of enlightenment/' or Maskilim, as they styled themselves, 
and to propagate the idea of a school-reform among the ortho- 
dox Jewish masses. 

While setting out on his journey, Lilienthal himself did not 
fully realize the difficulties of the task he had undertaken. He 
was to instill confidence in the " benevolent intentions of the 
Government " into the hearts of a people which by an unin- 
terrupted series of persecutions and cruel restrictions had 
been reduced to the level of pariahs. He was to make them 
believe that the Government was a well-wisher of Jewish 
children, those same children, who at that very time were 
hunted like wild beasts by the " captors " in the streets of the 
Pale, who were turned by the thousands into soldiers, deported 
into outlying provinces, and belabored in such a manner that 
scarcely half of them remained alive and barely a tenth re- 


mained within the Jewish fold. Guided by an infallible in- 
stinct, the plain Jewish people formulated their own simplified 
theory to account for the step taken by the Government: up 
to the present their children had been baptized through the 
barracks, in the future they would be baptized through the 
additional medium of the school. 

Lilienthal arrived in Vilna in the beginning of 1842, and, 
calling a meeting of the Jewish Community, explained the 
plan conceived by the Government and by Uvarov, " the friend 
of the Jews/' He was listened to with unveiled distrust. 

The elders — Lilienthal tells us in his Memoirs 1 — sat there ab- 
sorbed in deep contemplation. Some of them, leaning on their 
silver-adorned staffs or smoothing their long beards, seemed as if 
agitated by earnest thoughts and justifiable suspicions; others 
were engaging in a lively but quiet discussion on the principles 
involved; such put to me the ominous question: "Doctor, are 
you fully acquainted with the leading principles of our govern- 
ment? You are a stranger; do you know what you are under- 
taking? The course pursued against all denominations but the 
Greek proves clearly that the Government intends to have but one 
Church in the whole Empire; that it has in view only its own 
future strength and greatness and not our own future prosperity. 
We are sorry to state that we put no confidence in the new 
measures proposed by the ministerial council, and that we look 
with gloomy foreboding into the future." 

In his reply Lilienthal advanced an impressive array of ar- 
guments : What will you gain by your resistance to the new 
measures? It will only irritate the Government, and will 
determine it to pursue its system of repression, while at 
present you are offered an opportunity to prove that the Jews 
are not enemies of culture and deserve a better lot. 

l x I quote from Max Lilienthal, American Rabbi, Life and Writ* 
ings, by David Philipson, New York, 1915, p. 264.] 


When questioned as to whether the Jewish community had 
any guarantee that the Government plan was not a veiled 
attempt to undermine the Jewish religion, Lilienthal, by way 
of reply, solemnly pledged himself to throw up his mission 
the moment he would find that the Government associated with 
it secret intentions against Judaism. 1 The circle of " enlight- 
ened " Jews in Yilna pledged its support to Lilienthal* and he 
left full of faith in the success of his enterprise. 

A cruel disappointment awaited him in Minsk. Here the 
arguments which the opponents advanced in a passionate de- 
bate at a public meeting were of a utilitarian rather than of 
an idealistic nature. 

So long as the Government does not accord equal rights to the 
Jew, general culture will only be his misfortune. The plain un- 
educated Jew does not balk at the low occupation of factor* or 
peddler, for, drawing comfort and J07 from his religion, he is 
reconciled to his miserable lot But the Jew who is educated and 
enlightened, and yet has no means of occupying an honorable 
position in the country, will be moved by a feeling of discontent 
to renounce his religion, and no honest father will think of giving 
an education to his children which may lead to such an issue.* 

The opponents of official enlightenment in Minsk were not 
content with advancing arguments that appealed to reason. 
Both at the meeting and in the street, Lilienthal was the 
target of insulting remarks from the crowd. 

On his return to St Petersburg, Lilienthal presented Uvarov 
with a report which convinced the Minister that the execution 
of the school-reform was a difficult but not a hopeless task. 

[* Op. ctt. p. 266.] 

[* The Polish name tor agent See vol. I, p. 170, n. L] 
[• Quoted from Lilienthal's own account in Die ATlgemeine 
Zeitnng tfet l%dent%ms t 1S42, No. 41, p. 605b.] 


On June 22, 1842, an imperial rescript was issued, placing all 
Jewish schools, including the heders and yeshibahs, noder the 
supervision of the Ministry of Public Instruction. Simul- 
taneously it was announced that the Government had sum- 
moned a Commission of four Eabbis to meet in St. Petersburg 
for the purpose of " supporting the efforts of the Government " 
in the realization of the school-reform. This Committee was 
to serve Russian Jewry as a security that the school-reforms 
would not be directed against the Jewish religion. 

At the same time Lilienthal was ordered to proceed again 
to the Pale of Settlement. He was directed to tour principally 
through the South-western and New-Russian governments and 
exert his influence upon the Jewish masses in accordance with 
the instructions received from the ministry. Before setting 
out on his journey, Lilienthal published a Hebrew pamphlet 
under the title Maggid Yeshu'dh (" Herald of Salvation") 
which called upon the Jewish communities to comply readily 
with the wishes of the Government. In his private letters, 
addressed to prominent Jews, Lilienthal expressed the assur- 
ance that the school ukase was merely the forerunner of a 
series of measures for the betterment of the civic status *£ 
the Jews. 

This time Lilienthal met with a greater measure of success 
than on his first journey. In several large centers, such as 
Berdychev, Odessa, Kishinev, he was accorded a friendly 
welcome and assured of the co-operation of the communities 
in making the new school system a success. Filled with fresh 
hopes, Lilienthal returned in 1843 to St. Petersburg to partici- 
pate in the work of the " Rabbinical Commission " which had 
been convoked by the Government and was now holding its 
sessions in the capital from May till August. 



The make-up of the Babbinical Commission did not fully 
justify its appellation. Only two " ecclesiastics " were on it, 
the president of the Taimudic Academy of Voiozhin, 1 Eabbi 
Itzhok (Isaac) Itzhaki, and the leader of the White Bussian 
Hasidim, Eabbi Mendel Shneorsohn,* while the South-western 
region and New Bussia had sent two laymen: the banker 
Halperin of Berdyehev, and the director of the Jewish school 
in Odessa, Bezalel Stern. The two representatives of the 
" clergy " put up a warm defence for the traditional Jewish, 
school, the heder, endeavoring to save it from the ministerial' 
"supervision," which aimed at its annihilation. Finally a 
compromise was effected: the traditional heder was to be left 
intact for the time being, but the proposed Crown school was 
to be given full scope in competing with it The Commission 
even went so far as to work out a program of Jewish studies 
for the new type of school. 

The labors of the Babbinical Commission were submitted 
to the Jewish Committee, under the chairmanship of Kiselev, 
and discussed by it in connection with the general plan of a 
Btassian school-reform. It was necessary to find the resultant 
between two opposing forces : between the desire of the Gov- 
ernment to substitute the Bussian Crown school for the old- 
fashioned Jewish school and the determination of Bussian 
Jewry to preserve its own school as a bulwark against the 
official institutions foisted upon it. The Government was, 
bent on carrying out its policy, and found itself compelled to 
resort to diplomatic contrivances. 

On November 13, 1844, Nicholas signed two enactments, 
the one a public ukase relating to "the Education of the 

P In the government of Vilna. See vol. I, p. 380, et *eg.] 
[■ The grandson of Rabbi Shneor Zalman, the founder of that 
faction. See voL I, p. 372.] 


Jewish Youth," the other a confidential rescript addressed to 
the Minister of Public Instruction. The public enactment 
called for the establishment of Jewish schools of two grades, 
corresponding to the courses of instruction in the parochial " 
and county schools, and ordered the opening of two rabbinical ', 
institutes for the training of rabbis and teachers. The teach- 
ing staff in the Jewish Crown schools was to consist both of 
Jews and Christians. The graduates of these schools were 
granted a reduction in the term of military service. The 
execution of the school reforms in the respective localities was 
placed in the hands of " School Boards," composed of Jews 
and Christians, which were to be appointed provisionally for 
that purpose. 

In the secret rescript the tone was altogether different. 
There it was stated that "the aim pursued in the training 
of the Jews is that of bringing them nearer to the Christian 
population and eradicating the prejudices fostered in them 
by the study of the Talmud "; that with the opening of the 
new schools the old ones were to be gradually closed or reor- 
ganized, and that as soon as the Crown schools have been 
established in sufficient numbers, attendance at them would 
become obligatory ; that the superintendents of the new schools 
should only be chosen from among Christians; that every ^ 
possible effort should be made u to put obstacles in the way of ff 
granting teaching licenses " to the melammeds who lacked a 
secular education; that after the lapse of twenty years no one 
should hold the position of teacher or rabbi without having 
obtained his degree from one of the official rabbinical schools. 

It was not long, however, before the secret came out. The 
Bussian Jews were terror-stricken at the thought of being 
robbed of their ancient school autonomy, and decided to adopt 



the well-tried tactics of passive resistance to all Government 
measures. The school-reform was making slow progress. The 
opening of the elementary schools and of the two rabbinical 
institutes in Yilna and Zhitomir did not begin until 1847, 
and for the first few years they dragged on a miserable exist- 
ence. Lilienthal himself disappeared from the scene, without 
waiting for the consummation of the reform plan. In 1845 
he suddenly abandoned his post at the Ministry of Public 
Instruction, and left Bussia for ever. A more intimate ac- 
quaintance with the intentions of the leading Government 
circles had made Lilienthal realize that the apprehensions 
voiced in his presence by the old men of the Yilna community 
were well-founded, and he thought it his duty to fulfil the 
pledge given by him publicly. From the land of serfdom, 
where, to use Lilienthal's own words, the only way for the 
Jew to make peace with the Government was a by bowing 
down before the Greek cross," he went to the land of freedom, 
the United States of America. There he occupied important 
pulpits in New York and Cincinnati where he died in 1882. 

3. The Abolition of Jewish Autonomy and Kenewed 


No sooner had the school reform, which was tantamount to 
the abrogation of Jewish school autonomy, been publicly an- 
nounced than the Government took steps to realize the second 
article of its program, the annihilation of the remnants of 
Jewish communal autonomy. An ukase published on Decem- 
ber 19, 1844, ordered " the placing of the Jews in the cities 
and countries under the jurisdiction of the general (i. e., 
Bussian) administration, with the abolition of the Kahals." 
By this ukase all the administrative functions of the Kahals 


were turned over to the police departments, and those of an 
eoonomic and fiscal character to the municipalities and town 
councils; the old elective Kahal administration was to pass 
out of existence. 

Carried to its logical conclusions, this "reform" would 
necessarily have led, as it actually did lead in Western Europe, 
to the abolition of the Jewish community, outside the narrow 
limits of a synagogue parish, had the Jews of Russia been 
placed at the same time on a footing of equality in regard to 
faoo&m. But such European consistency was beyond the 
mental range of Russian autocracy. It was neither willing to 
abandon the special, and for the Jews doubly burdensome, 
method of conscription, nor to forego the extra levies imposed 
upon the Jews, over and above the general state taxes, for needs 
which, properly speaking, should have been met by the ex- 
chequer. Thus it came about that for the sake of maintaining 
Jewish disabilities in the matter of conscription and taxation, 
the Government itself was obliged to mitigate the blow at 
Jewish autonomy by allowing the institutions of Jewish " con- 
scription trustees " and tax-collectors, elected by the Jewish 
communes " from among the most dependable men," to remain 
in force. The Government, moreover, found it necessary to 
establish a special department for Jewish affairs at each muni- 
cipality and town council. In this way the law managed to 
destroy the self-government of the Kahal and yet preserve its 
rudimentary function as an autonomous fiscal agency which 
was to be continued under the auspices of the municipality. In 
point of fact, the Kahal, which, through its " trustees " and 
" captors," had acted the part of a Government tod. in carrying 
out the dreadful military conscription, had long become thor- 
oughly demoralized and had lost its former prestige as a great 


Jewish institution, Its transformation into a purely fiscal 
agency was merely the formal ratification of a sad fact. 

Having disposed of the Kahal as a vehicle of Jewish " separ- 
atism," the Government next attacked the special Jewish 
" system of taxation," not to abolish it, of course, but rather to 
place it under a more rigorous control for the purpose of pre- 
venting it from serving in the hands of the Jews as an instru- 
ment for the attainment of specific Jewish ends. It is signifi- 
cant that on the same day on which the Kahal ukase was made 
public was also issued the new " Regulation Concerning the 
Basket Tax." * The revenue from this tax which had for a 
long time been imposed upon Kosher meat was originally 
placed at the free disposal of the Kahals* though subject, 
since 1839, to the combined control of the administration 
and municipality. According to the new enactment, the pro- 
ceeds from the meat tax which was to be let to the highest 
bidder were to be left entirely in the hands of the gubernatorial 
administration. The latter was instructed to see to it that 
the income from the tax should first be applied to cover the fiscal 
arrears of the Jews, thai to provide for the maintenance of 
the Grown schools and the official promotion of agriculture 
among Jews, and only as a last item to be spent on the local 

In addition to the general basket tax, imposed upon all Jews 
who use Kosher meat, an " auxiliary basket tax " was instituted 
to be levied on immovable property as well as on business pur- 
suits and bequests. Moreover, following the Austrian model, 
the Government instituted, or rather reinstituted, the " candle 
tax," a toll on Sabbath candles. The proceeds from this 

[*The tax is called in Russian horobockny *bor, or, for short, 
korobka, a word related to German Kerb. It was partly in use 
already under the Polish rftgime.] 


impost on a religions ceremony were to go specifically towards 
the organization of the Jewish Grown schools, and were placed 
entirely at the disposal of the Ministry of Public Instruction. 

Thus in exact proportion to the curtailment of communal 
autonomy, voluntary self -taxation was gradually supplanted 
by compulsory Government taxation, a circumstance which 
not only increased the financial burden of the Jewish masses, 
but also tended to aggravate it from a moral point of view. 
The " tax," as the meat tax was called for short, became in 
the course of time one of the scourges of Jewish communal 
life, that same life which the " measures " of the Government 
had merely succeeded in disorganizing. 

Anxious as the Government was to act diplomatically and, 
for fear of intensifying the distrust of Bussian Jewry towards 
the new scheme, to stem the flood of restrictions during the 
execution of the school reform, it could not long restrain itself. 
The third plank in the platform of the Jewish Committee, 
the increase of Jewish disabilities, which had hitherto been 
kept in reserve, was now pressing forward, and issued forth 
from the recesses of the chancelleries somewhat earlier than 
tactical considerations might have dictated. On April 20, 
1843, while the " enlightenment n propaganda was in full 
swing, there suddenly appeared, in the form of a resolution 
appended by the Tzar's own hand to the report of the Council 
of Ministers, the following curt ukase: 

All Jews living within the fifty verst zone along the Prussian 
and Austrian frontier are to be transferred into the interior of 
the (border) governments. Those possessing their own houses 
are to be granted a term of two years within which to sell them. 
To oe carried out without any excuee*. 

On the receipt of this grim command, the Senate was at 
first puzzled as to whether the imperial order was a mere 


repetition of the former law concerning the expulsion of the 
Jews from the Tillages and hamlets on the frontier/ or whether 
it was a new law involving the expulsion of all Jews on the 
border, without discrimination, including those in the cities 
and towns. Swayed by the harsh and emphatic tone of the 
imperial resolution, the Senate decided to interpret the new 
order in the sense of a complete and absolute expulsion. This 
interpretation received the Tzar's approbation, except that 
the time-limit for the expulsion of real estate owners was 
extended for two years more and the ruined exiles were prom- 
ised temporary relief from taxation. 

The new catastrophe which descended upon tens of thou- 
sands of families, particularly in the government of Kovno, 
caused a cry of horror, not only throughout the border-zone 
but also abroad. When the Jews doomed to expulsion were 
ordered by the police to state the places whither they intended 
to emigrate, nineteen communities refused to comply with 
this demand, and declared that they would not abandon their 
hearths and the graves of their forefathers and would only 
yield to force. Public opinion in Western Europe was running 
high with indignation. The French, German, and English 
papers condemned in no uncertain terms the policy of " New 
Spain." Many Jewish communities in Germany petitioned 
the Russian Government to revoke the terrible expulsion 
decree. There was even an attempt at diplomatic intervention. 
During his stay in England, Nicholas I. was approached on 
behalf of the Jews by personages of high rank. Yet the 
Government would scarcely have yielded to public protests, 
had it not become patent that it was impossible to carry out 
the decree without laying waste entire cities and thereby 
affecting injuriously the interests of the exchequer. The fatal 

[* See above, p. 40.] 


ukase was not officially repealed, but the Government did not 
insist on its execution. 

In the meantime the u Jewish Committee " kept up a corres- 
pondence with the governors-general in regard to the ways and 
means of carrying into effect the third article of its program, 
the "assortment," or classification, of the Jews. The plan 
called for the division of all Bussian Jews into two categories, 
into useful and useless ones. The former category was to 
consist of merchants affiliated with guilds, artisans belonging 
to trade-unions, agriculturists, and those of the burgher class 
who owned immovable property with a definite income. All 
other burghers who could not claim such a financial status 
and had no definite income, in other words, the large mass of 
petty tradesmen and paupers, were to be labelled as " useless " 
or " detrimental," and subjected to increased disabilities. 

The inquiry of the Ministry of the Interior regarding the 
feasibility of such an "assortment" met with a strongly- 
worded rebuttal from the governor-general of New Russia, 
Vorontzov. While on a leave of absence in London, this 
Bussian dignitary, who had evidently been affected by English 
ideas, prepared a memorandum and sent it, in October, 1843, 
to St. Petersburg with the request to have it submitted to the 

I venture to think — quoth Vorontzov with reference to the pro- 
jected segregation of the "useless" Jews — that the application 
of the term " useless " to several hundred thousand people who 
by the will of the Almighty have lived in this Empire from ancient 
times ia in itself both cruel and unjust The project labels as 
" useless " all those numerous Jews who are engaged either in the 
retail purchase of goods from their original manufacturers for 
delivery to wholesale merchants, or in the useful distribution 
among the consumers of the merchandise obtained from the 


wholesalers. Judging impartially, one cannot help wondering how 
these numerous tradesmen can be regarded as useless and con- 
sequently as detrimental, if one bears in mind that by their petty 
and frequently maligned pursuits they promote not only rural 
but also commercial life. 

The atrocious scheme of u assorting " the Jews is nailed 
down by Vorontzov as " a bloody operation over a whole class 
of people," which is threatened " not only with hardships, but 
also with annihilation through poverty/' 

I venture to think — with these words Vorontzov concludes his 
memorandum — that this measure is both harmful and cruel. On 
the one side, hundreds of thousands of hands which assist petty 
industry in the provinces will be turned aside, when there is no 
possibility, and for a long time there will be none, of replacing 
them. On the other side, the cries and moans of such an enormous 
number of unfortunates will serve as a reproach to our Govern- 
ment not only in our own country but also beyond the confines of 

Since the time of Speranski and the like-minded members 
of the " Jewish Committee " of 1803 and 1812 * the leading 
spheres of St. Petersburg had had no chance to hear such 
courageous and truthful words. Vorontzov's objections im- 
plied a crushing criticism of the whole fallacious economic 
policy of the Government in branding the petty tradesmen 
and middlemen as an injurious element and building thereon 
a whole system of anti-Jewish persecutions and cruelties. But 
St. Petersburg was not amenable to reason. The only con- 
cession wrested from the "Jewish Committee " consisted in 
replacing the term " useless " as applied to small tradesmen 
by the designation " not engaged in productive labor." 

The cruel project continued to engage the attention of the 
" Jewish Committee " for a long time. In April, 1&5, the 

I I See vol. I, p. 340.] 



chairman of the Committee, Kiselev, addressed a circular 
to the governors-general in which he pointed out that after 
the promulgation of the laws concerning the establishment of 
Crown schools and the abolition of the Kahals — laws which 
were aimed at " the weakening of the influence of the Talmud " 
and the destruction of all institutions " postering the separate 
individuality of the Jews " — the turn had come for carrying 
into effect, by means of the proposed classification, the measures 
directed towards " the transfer of the Jews to useful labor." 
Of the regulations tending to affect the Jews " culturally " 
the circular emphasizes the prohibition of Jewish dress to 
take effect after the lapse of five years. 

All the regulations alluded to — Kiselev writes— -have been issued 
and will be issued separately, in order to conceal their interrelation 
and common aim from the fanaticism of the Jewt. For this rea- 
son his Imperial Majesty has been graciously pleased to command 
me to communicate all the said plans to the Governors-General 

It would seem, howevej, that the Russian authorities had 
grossly underestimated the political sense of the Jews. They 
were not aware of the fact that St. Petersburg's conspiracy 
against Judaism had long been exposed in the Pale of Settle- 
ment, if only for the reason that the conspirators were not 
clever enough to hide even for a time the chastising knout 
beneath the cloak of " cultural " reforms. 

4. Intercession of Western European Jewry 

The mask of the Russian Government was soon torn down 
also before the eyes of Western Europe. In the initial stage 
of Lilienthal's campaign, public-minded Jews of Western 
Europe were inclined to believe that a happy era was dawning 


upon their coreligionists in Bussia. At the instance of Uvarov, 
Lilienthal had entered into correspondence with Philippson, 
Geiger, Cr6mieux, Montefiore, and other leaders of West- 
European Jewry, bespeaking their moral support on behalf 
of the school-reform and going so far as to invite them to par- 
ticipate in the proceedings of the Rabbinical Commission 
convened at St. Petersburg. The replies from these prominent 
Jews were full of complimentary references to Uvarov's en- 
deavors. The Allgememe Zeitung des Judentums, 1 in the 
beginning of the forties, voiced the general belief that the era 
of persecutions in Bussia had come to an end. 

The frontier expulsions of 1843 acted like a cold douche 
on these enthusiasts. They realized that the pitiless banish- 
ment at thousands of families from home and hearth was not 
altogether compatible with "benevolent intentions." A sen- 
sational piece of news made its rounds through Germany: 
the well-known painter Oppenheim of Frankfurt-on-the-Main 
had given up working at the large picture ordered by the 
leaders of several Jewish communities for presentation to the 
Tzar. The painting had been intended as an allegory, pictur- 
ing a sunrise in a dark realm, but the happy anticipations 
proved a will o' the wisp, and the plan had to be given up. 
Instead, Western Europe was resounding with moans from 
Bussia, betokening new persecutions and even more atrocious 
schemes of restrictions. The sufferings of the Russian Jews 
suggested the thought that it was the duly of the influential 
Jews of the West to intercede on behalf of their persecuted 
brethren before the emperor of Bussia. 

[* A weekly founded by Dr. Lndwig PMlippson in 18S7. It still 
appears in Berlin.] 


The choice fell on the famous Jewish philanthropist in 
London, Sir Moses Montefiore, who stood in close relations to 
the court of Queen Victoria. Having established his fame by 
championing the Jewish cause in Turkey during the ritual 
murder trial of Damascus in 1840, Montefiore resolved to 
make a similar attempt in the land of the Tzar. In the 
beginning of 1846 he set out for Russia, ostensibly in the 
capacity of a traveller desirous of familiarizing himself with 
the condition of his coreligionists. Montefiore, who was the 
bearer of a personal recommendation from Queen Victoria 
to the Russian emperor, was received in St. Petersburg with 
great honors. During an audience granted to Montefiore in 
March, 1846, the Tzar expressed his willingness to receive 
from him, through the medium of the " Jewish Committee,' 9 
suggestions bearing on the condition of the Russian Jews, 
based on the information to be gathered by him on his travels. 
MonteAorefe journey through the Pale of Settlement, includ- 
ing a visit to Vilna, Warsaw, and other cities, was marked by 
great solemnity. He was courteously received by the highest 
local officials, who acted according to instructions from St. 
Petersburg, and he met everywhere with an enthusiastic wel- 
come from the Jewish masses, who expected great results from 
his intercession before the Tzar. 

Needless to say, these expectations were not realized. On 
his return to London, Montefiore addressed various petitions 
to Kiselev, the chairman of the Jewish Committee, to Minister 
Uvarov and to Paskevich, the then viceroy of Poland. 
Everywhere he pleaded for a mitigation of the harsh laws 
which were pressing upon his unfortunate brethren, for the 
restoration of the recently abolished communal autonomy, for 
the harmonization of the school-reform with the religious 


traditions of the Jewish masses. The Tzar was informed of 
the contents of these petitions, but it was all of no avail. 

In the same year another influential foreigner made an 
unsuccessful attempt to improve the condition of the Russian 
Jews by emigration. A rich Jewish merchant of Marseille, 
named Isaac Altaras, came to Russia with a proposal to trans- 
plant a certain number of Jews to Algiers, which had recently 
passed under French rule. Fortified by letters of recommen- 
dation from Premier Guizot and other high officials 
in France, Altaras entered into negotiations with the Min- 
isters Nesselrode and Perovski in St. Petersburg and with 
Viceroy Paskevich in Warsaw, for the purpose of obtaining 
permission for a certain number of Jews to emigrate from 
Russia. 2 He gave the assurance that the French Government 
was ready to admit into Algiers, as full-fledged citizens, 
thousands of destitute Russian Jews, and that the means for 
transferring them would be provided by Rothschild's banking 
house in Paris. At first, while in St. Petersburg, Altaras was 
informed that permission to leave Russia would be granted 
only on condition that a fixed ransom be paid for every emi- 
grant In Warsaw, however, which city he visited later, in 
October, 1846, he was notified that the Tzar had decided to 
waive the ransom. For some unexplained reason Altaras left 
Russia suddenly, and the scheme of a Jewish mass emigra- 
tion fell through. 

5. The Economic Plight of Russian Jewby and Agri- 
cultural Experiments 

The attempt at thinning the Jewish population by emi- 
gration having failed, the congested Jewish masses continued 
to gasp for air in their Pale of Settlement. The slightest 

[* A law on the Russian statute books forbids the emigration of 
Russian citizens abroad. See later, p. 285, n. 1.] 


effort to penetrate beyond the Pale into the interior was treated 
as a criminal offence. In December, 1847, the Council of State 
engaged in a protracted and earnest discussion about the geo- 
graphical point up to which the Jewish coachmen of Polotzk 
should be allowed to drive the inmates of the local school of 
cadets on their annual trips to the Bussian capital. The 
discussion arose out of the fact that the road leading from 
Polotzk to St. Petersburg is crossed by the line separating the 
Pale from the prohibited interior. A proposal had been made 
to permit the coachmen to drive their passengers as far as 
Pskov. But when the report was submitted to the Tzar, he 
appended the following resolution: "Agreeable; though not 
to Pskov, but to Ostrov " — the town nearest to the Pale. Of 
this trivial kind were Russia's methods in curtailing Jewish 
rights three months before the great upheaval which in ad- 
joining Germany and Austria dealt the death-blow to absolu- 
tism and inaugurated the era of the " Second Emancipation." 

As for the economic life of the Jews, it had been completely 
undermined by the system of ruthless tutelage, which the 
Government had employed for a quarter of a century in the 
hope of " reconstructing " it All these drumhead methods, 
such as the hurling of masses of living beings from villages 
into towns and from the border-zone into the interior, the 
prohibition of certain occupations and the artificial promotion 
of others, could not but result in economic ruin, instead of 
leading to economic reform. 

Nor was the governmental system of encouraging agriculture 
among Jews attended by greater success. In consequence of 
the expulsion of tens of thousands of Jews from the villages 
of White Russia in 1823, some two thousand refugees had drift* 
ed into the agricultural colonies of New Russia, but all they did 


was to replace the human wastage from increased mortality, 
which, owing to the change of climate and the unaccustomed 
conditions of rural life, had decimated the original settlers. 
During the reign of Nicholas, efforts were again made to 
promote agricultural colonization by offering the prospective 
immigrants subsidies and alleviations in taxation. Even more 
valuable was the privilege relieving the colonists from military 
service for a term of twenty-five to fifty years from the time 
of settlement. Yet only a few tried to escape conscription by 
taking refuge in the colonies. For the military regime gradu- 
ally penetrated into these colonies as well. The Jewish col- 
onist was subject to the grim tutelage of Bussian " curators " 
and "superintendents," retired army men, who watched his 
every step and punished the slightest carelessness by conscrip- 
tion or expulsion. 

In 1836 the Government conceived the idea of enlarging 
the area of Jewish agricultural colonization. By an imperial 
rescript certain lands in Siberia, situated in the government 
of Tobolsk and in the territory of Omsk, were set aside for 
this purpose. Within a short time 1317 Jews declared their 
readiness to settle on the new lands ; many had actually started 
on their way in batches. But in January, 1837, the Tzar quite 
unexpectedly changed his mind. After reading the report 
of the Council of Ministers on the first results of the immigra- 
tion, he put down the resolution : " The transplantation of 
Jews to Siberia is to be stopped/' A few months later orders 
were issued to intercept those Jews who were on their way to 
Siberia and transfer them to the Jewish colonies in the 
government of Kherson. The unfortunate emigrants were 
seized on the way and conveyed, like criminals, under a military 
escort into places in which they were not in the least interested. 


Legislative whims of this kind, coupled with an uncouth sys- 
tem of tutelage, were quite sufficient to crush in many Jews 
the desire of turning to the soil- 
Nevertheless, the colonization made slow progress, gradually 
spreading from the government of Kherson to the neighboring 
governments of Yekaterinoslav and Bessarabia. Stray Jewish 
agricultural settlements also appeared in Lithuania and White 
Russia. But a comparative handful of some ten thousand 
"Jewish peasants" could not affect the general economic 
make-up of millions of Jews. In spite of all shocks, the 
economic structure of Russian Jewry remained essentially the 
same. As before, the central place in this structure was occu- 
pied by the liquor traffic, though modified in a certain measure 
by the introduction of a more extensive* system of public leases. 
Above the rank and file of tavern keepers, both rural and urban, 
there had arisen a class of wealthy tax-farmers, who kept a 
monopoly on the sale of liquor or the collection of excise in 
various governments of the Pale. They functioned as the 
financial agents of the exchequer, while the Jewish employees 
in their mills, store-houses, and offices acted as their sub- 
agents, forming a class of " officials " of their own. The place 
next in importance to the liquor traffic was occupied by retail 
and wholesale commerce. The crafts and the spiritual profes- 
sions came last. Pauperism was the inevitable companion of 
this economic organization, and " people without definite occu- 
pations " were counted by the hundreds of thousands. 

6. The Ritual Mubdsb Tbial of Vblizh 

The " ordinary " persecutions under which the Jews in 
Bussia were groaning were accompanied by afflictions of an 
extraordinary kind. The severest among these' were the ritual 


murder trials which became of frequent occurrence, tending 
to deepen the medieval gloom of that period. True, ritual 
murder cases had occurred during the reign of Alexander I., 
hut it was only under Nicholas that they assumed a malign 
and dangerous form. In the year 1816, shortly before Pass- 
oyer, a dead body was found in the vicinity of Grodno and 
identified as that of the four year old daughter of a Grodno 
resident, Mary Adamovich. Rumors were spread among the 
superstitious Christian populace to the effect that the girl had 
been killed for ritual purposes, and the police, swayed by 
these rumors, set about to find the culprit among the Jews. 
Suspicion fell on a member of the Grodno Kahal, Shalom 
Lapin, whose house adjoined that of the Adamovich family. 
The only " evidence " against him were a hammer and a pike 
found in his house. A sergeant, named Savitzki, a converted 
Jew, appeared as a material witness before the Commission 
of Inquiry, and delivered himself of a statement full of 
ignorant trash, which was intended to show that " Christian 
blood is exactly what is needed according to the Jewish 
religion " — here the witness referred to the Bible story of the 
Exodus and to two mythical authorities, "the philosopher 
Bossi6 and the prophet Azariah." He further deposed that 
" every rabbi is obliged to satisfy the whole Kahal under his 
jurisdiction by smearing with same (with Christian blood) 
the lintels of every house on the first day of the feast of 
Passover." Prompted by greed and by the desire to dis- 
tinguish himself, the sergeant declared himself ready to sub- 
stantiate his testimony from Jewish literature, " if the chief 
Government will grant him the necessary assistance. 

The results of this " secret investigation " were laid before 
the governor of Grodno and reported by him to St. Petersburg. 


In reply, Alexander I. issued a rescript in February, 1817, 
ordering that the " secret investigation be cut short and the 
murderer be found out," intimating thereby that search be 
made for the criminal and not for the tenets of the Jewish 
religion. However, all efforts to discover the culprit failed, 
and the case was dismissed. 

This favorable issue was in no small measure due to the 
endeavors of the " Deputies of the Jewish People/* x in par- 
ticular to Sonnenberg, the deputy from Grodno. These depu- 
ties, who were present in St. Petersburg at that time, addressed 
themselves to Golitzin, the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, 
protesting against the ritual murder libel. The trial at Grodno 
and the ritual murder accusations which simultaneously 
cropped up in the Kingdom of Poland made the Minister of 
Ecclesiastical Affairs realize that there was in the Western 
region a dangerous tendency of making the Jews the scapegoats 
for every mysterious murder case and of fabricating lawsuits of 
the medieval variety by bringing popular superstition into play. 
Golitzin, a Christian pietist, who was nevertheless profoundly 
averse to narrow ecclesiastic fanaticism, decided to strike at the 
root of this superstitious legend which was disgracing Poland 
in her period of decay and was about to fall as a dark stain upon 
Eussia. He succeeded in impressing this conviction upon his 
like-minded sovereign Alexander I. In the same month in 
which the ukase concerning " the Society of Israelitish Chris- 
tians " was published * Golitzin sent out the following circular 
to the governors, dated March 6, 1817 : 

In view of the fact that in several of the provinces acquired from 
Poland, cases still occur in which the Jews are falsely accused 
of murdering Christian children for the alleged purpose of obtain- 

[* See voL I, p. 394.] 

[* Compare voL I, p. 396.] 


ing blood, his Imperial Majesty, taking into consideration that 
similar accusations have on previous numerous occasions been 
refuted by impartial investigations and royal charters, has been 
graciously pleased to convey to those at the head of the govern- 
ments his Sovereign will: that henceforward the Jews shall not 
be charged with murdering Christian children, without any evi- 
dence and purely as a result of the superstitious belief that they 
are in need of Christian blood. 

One might have thought that this emphatic rescript would 
suffice to put a stop to the efforts of ignorant adventurers to 
resuscitate the bloody myth. And, for several years, indeed, 
the sinister agitation kept quiet. But towards the end of 
Alexander's reign it came to life again, and gave rise to the 
monstrous Velizh case. 

In the year 1823, on the first day of the Christian Passover, 
a boy of three years, Theodore Yemelyanov, the son of a 
Bussian soldier, disappeared in the city of Velizh, in the 
government of Vitebsk. Ten days later the child's body was 
found in a swamp beyond the town, stabbed all over and 
covered with wounds. The medical examination and the pre- 
liminary investigation were influenced by the popular belief 
that the child had been tortured to death by the Jews. This 
belief was fostered by two Christian fortune-tellers, a prosti- 
tute beggar-woman, called Mary Terentyeva, and a half-witted 
old maid, by the name of Yeremyeyeva, who by way of divina- 
tion made, the parents of the child believe that its death was 
due to the Jews. At the judicial inquiry, Terentyeva impli- 
cated two of the most prominent Jews of Velizh, the merchant 
Shmorka * Berlin, and Yevzik ' Zetlin, a member of the local 
town council. 

[ l A popular form of the name Shemariah.] 

[* The Russian form of YoseJ, a variant of the name Joseph.] 



Protracted investigations failed to substantiate the fabrica- 
tions of Terentyeva, and in the autumn of 1824 the Supreme 
Court of the government of Vitebsk rendered the following 


To leave the accidental death of the soldier boy to the will of 
God; to declare all the Jews, against whom the charge of murder 
has been brought on mere surmises, free from all suspicion; to 
turn over the soldier woman Terentyeva, for her profligate con- 
duct, to a priest for repentance. 

However, in view of the exceptional gravity of the crime, 
the Court recommended to the gubernatorial administration 
to continue its investigations. 

Despite the verdict of the court, the dark forces among the 
local population, prompted by hatred of the Jews, bent all 
their efforts on putting the investigation on the wrong track. 
The low, mercenary Terentyeva became their ready tool. When 
in September, 1825, Alexander I. was passing through Velizh, 
she submitted a petition to him, complaining about the failure 
of the authorities to discover the murderer of little Theodore, 
whom she unblushingly designated as her own child and de- 
clared to have been tortured to death by the Jews. The Tzar, 
entirely oblivious of his ukase of 1817, 1 instructed the White- 
Bussian governor-general, Khovanski, to start a new rigorous 

The imperial order gave the governor-general, who was a 
Jew-hater and a believer in the hideous libel, unrestricted 
scope for his anti-Semitic instincts. He entrusted the con- 
duct of the new investigation to a subaltern, by the name of 
Strakhov, a man of the same ilk, conferring upon him the 
widest possible powers. On his arrival in Velizh, Strakhov 
first of all arrested Terentyeva, and subjected her to a series 
of cross-examinations during which he endeavored to put her 

[ x See above, p. 74.] 



on what he considered the desirable track. Stimulated by the 
prosecutor, the prostitute managed to concoct a regular crim- 
inal romance. She deposed that she herself had participated 
in the crime, having lured little Theodore into the homes of 
Zetlin and Berlin. In Berlin's house, and later on in the 
synagogue, a crowd of Jews of both sexes had subjected the 
child to the most horrible tortures. The boy had been stabbed 
and butchered and rolled about in a barrel. The blood 
squeezed out of him had been distributed on the spot among 
those present, who thereupon proceeded to soak pieces of linen 
in it and to pour it out in bottles. 1 All these tortures had 
been perpetrated in her own presence, and with the active 
participation both of herself and the Christian servant-girls of 
the two families. 

It may be added that Terentyeva did not make these state- 
ments at one time, but at different intervals, inventing fresh 
details at each new examination and often getting muddled in 
her story. The implicated servant-girls at first denied their 
share in the crime, but, yielding to external pressure — like 
Terentyeva, they, too, were sent for frequent " admonition v 
to a local priest, called Tarashkevich, a ferocious anti-Semite 
— they were gradually led to endorse the depositions of the 
principal material witness. 

On the strength of these indictments Strakhov placed the 
implicated Jews under arrest, at first two highly esteemed 
ladies, Slava Berlin and Hannah Zetlin, later on their husbands 
and relatives, and finally a number of other Jewish residents 
of Velizh. In all forty-two people were seized, put in chains, 

1 According to her testimony, the Jews are in the habit of using 
Christian blood to smear the eyes of their new-born babies, since 
" the Jews are always born blind/' also to mix it with the flour 
in preparing the unleavened bread for Passover. 


and thrown into jail. The prisoners were examined "with 
a vengeance "; they were subjected to the old-fashioned judi- 
cial procedure which approached closely the methods of medie- 
val torture. The prisoners denied their guilt with indigna- 
tion, and, when confronted with Terentyeva, denounced her 
vehemently as a liar. The excruciating cross-examinations 
brought some of the prisoners to the verge of madness. But 
as far as Strakhov was concerned, the hysterical fits of the 
women, the angry speeches of the men, the remarks of some 
of the accused, such as : " I shall tell everything, but only to 
the Tzar," served in his eyes as evidence of the Jews' guilt 
In his reports he assured his superior, Khovanski, that he had 
got on the track of a monstrous crime perpetrated by a whole 
Kahal, with the assistance of several Christian women who 
had been led astray by the Jews. 

In communicating his findings to St. Petersburg, the White 
Russian governor-general presented the case as a crime com- 
mitted on religious grounds. In reply he received the fatal 
resolution of Emperor Nicholas, dated August 16, 1826, to 
the following effect: 

Whereas the above occurrence demonstrates that the Zhyds 1 
make wicked use of the religious tolerance accorded to them, 
therefore, as a warning and as an example to others, let the Jewish 
schools (the synagogues) of Velizh be sealed up until further 
orders, and let services be forbidden, whether in them or near them. 

The imperial resolution was couched in the fierce language 
of the new reign which had begun in the meantime. It rose 
in the bloody mist of the Velizh affair. The fatal consequences 
of this synchronism were not limited to the Jews of Velizh. 
Judging by the contents and the harsh wording of the resolu- 
tion, Nicholas I. was convinced at that time of the truth of 

[ x Compare vol. I, p. 320, n. 2.] 





the ritual murder libel. The mysterious and unloved tribe 
rose before the vision of the new Tzar as a band of cannibals 
and evil-doers. This sinister notion can be traced in the 
conscription statute which was then in the course of prepara- 
tion in St. Petersburg and was soon afterwards to stir Bussian 
Jewry to its depths, dooming their little ones to martyrdom. 

While punishment was to be meted out to the entire Jewish 
population of Russia, the fate of the Velizh community was 
particularly tragic. It was subjected to the terrors of a unique 
state of siege. The whole community was placed under suspi- 
cion. All the synagogues were shut up as if they were dens of 
thieves, and the hapless Jews could not even assemble in 
prayer to pour out their hearts before God. All business was 
at a standstill; the shops were closed, and gloomy faces flitted 
shyly across the streets of the doomed city. 

The stern command from St. Petersburg ordering that the 
case be u positively probed to the bottom " and that the culprits 
be apprehended gladdened only the heart of Strakhov, the 
chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, who was now free 
to do as he pleased. He spread out the net of inquiry in ever 
wider circles. Terentyeva and the other female witnesses, 
who were fed well while in prison, and expected not only 
amnesty but also remuneration for their services, gave more 
and more vent to their imagination. They " recollected " and 
revealed before the Commission of Inquiry a score of religious 
crimes which they alleged had been perpetrated by the Jews 
prior to the Veljph affair, such as the murder of children in 
suburban inns, the desecration of church utensils and similar 

The Commission was not slow in communicating the new 
revelations to the Tzar who followed vigilantly the develop* 


ments in the case. But the Commission had evidently over- 
reached itself. The Tzar began to suspect that there was 
something wrong in this endlessly growing tangle of crimes. 
In October, 1827, he attached to the report of the Commission 
the following resolution: " It is absolutely necessary to find 
out who those unfortunate children were; this ought to be 
easy if the whole thing is not a miserable lie." His belief in 
the guilt of the Jews had evidently been shaken. 

In its endeavors to make up for the lack of substantial 
f evidence, the Commission, personified by Khovanski, put itself 
in communication with the governors of the Pale, directing 
them to obtain information concerning all local ritual murder 
cases in past years. The effect of these inquiries was to revive 
the Grodno affair of 1816 which had been * left to oblivion." 
A certain convert by the name of Orudinski from the townlet 
of Bobovnya, in the government of Minsk, declared before the 
Commission of Inquiry that he was ready to point out the 
description of the ritual murder ceremony in a u secret" 
Hebrew work. When the book was produced and the incrimi- 
nated passage translated, it was found that it referred to the 
Jewish rite of slaughtering animals. The apostate, thus 
caught red-handed, confessed that he had turned informer in 
the hope of making money, and was by imperial command 
sent into the army. The confidence of St. Petersburg in the 
activity of the Velizh Commission of Inquiry vanished more 
and more. Khovanski was notified that "his Majesty the 
Emperor, having observed that the Commission bases its de- 
ductions mostly on surmises, by attaching significance to the 
fits and gestures of the incriminated during the examinations, 
is full of apprehension lest the Commission, carried away by 


zeal and anti-Jewish prejudice, act with a certain amount 
of bias and protract the case to no purpose." 

Soon afterwards, in 1830, the case was taken out of the 
hands of the Commission which had become entangled in a 
mesh of lies — Strakhov had died in the meantime — , and was 
turned over to the Senate. 

Weighed down by the nightmare proportions of the material, 
which the Velizh Commission had managed to pile up, the 
members of the Fifth Department of the Senate which was 
charged with the case were inclined to announce a verdict of 
guilty and to sentence the convicted Jews to deportation to 
Siberia, with the application of the knout and whip (1831). 
In the higher court, the plenary session of the Senate, there 
was a disagreement, the majority voting guilty, while three 
senators, referring to the ukase of 1817, were in favor of set- 
ting the prisoners at liberty, but keeping them at the same time 
under police surveillance. 

In 1834 the case reached the highest court of the Empire, 
the Council of State, and here for the first time the real facts 
came to light. Truth found its champion in the person 
of the, aged statesman, Mordvinov, who owned some estates 
near Velizh, and, being well-acquainted with the Jews of the 
town, was roused to indignation by the false charges concocted 
against them. In his capacity as president of the Department 
of Civil and Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Council of State, 
Mordvinov, after sifting the evidence carefully, succeeded in 
a number of sessions to demolish completely the Babel tower 
of lies erected by Strakhov and Khovanski and to adduce 
proofs that the governor-general, blinded by anti-Jewish preju- 
dice, had misled the Government by his communications. 
The Department of Civil and Ecclesiastical Affairs was con- 




vinced by the arguments of Mordvinov and other champions 
of the truth, and handed down a decision that the accused Jews 
be set at liberty and rewarded for their innocent sufferings, 
and that the Christian women informers be deported to Siberia. 
The plenary meeting of the Council of State concurred in 
the decision of the Department, rejecting only the clause pro- 
viding for the reward of the sufferers. The verdict of the 
Council of State was submitted to the Tzar and received his 
endorsement on January 18, 1835. It read as follows : 

The Council of State, having carefully considered all the cir- 
cumstances of this complex and Involved case, finds that the 
depositions of the material female witnesses, Terentyera, Maxi- 
mova, and Kozlovska, containing as they do numerous oontradi- 
tions and absurdities and lacking all positive evidence and in* 
dubitable conclusions, cannot be admitted as legal proof to convict 
the Jews of the grave crimes imputed to them, and, therefore, 
renders the following decision: 

1. The Jews accused of having killed the soldier boy Temelyanov 
and of other similar deeds, which are implied in the Velizh trial, 
no indictment whatsoever having been found against them, shall 
be freed from further judgment and inquiry. 

2. The material witnesses, the peasant woman Terentyeva, the 
soldier woman Maximova, and the Shlakhta woman 1 Kozlovska, 
having been convicted of uttering libels, which they have not in 
the least been able to corroborate, shall be exiled to Siberia for 
permanent residence. 

3. The peasant maid Teremyeyeva, having posed among the 
common people as a soothsayer, shall be turned over to a priest 
for admonition. 

After attaching his signature to this verdict, Nicholas I. 
added in his own handwriting the following characteristic 
resolution, which was not to be made public : 

P /. e^ a member of the Polish nobility; eomp. voL I, p. 58, n. !•] 



While sharing the Ylew of the Council of State that In this case, 
owing to the vagueness of the legal deductions, no other decision 
than the one embodied in the opinion confirmed by me could hare 
been reached, I deem it, however, necessary to add that I do not 
have, and, indeed, cannot have, the inner conviction that the 
murder has not been committed by the Jews. Numerous examples 
of simitar murders .... go to show that among the Jews there 
probably exist fanatics or sectarians who consider Christian 
blood necessary for their rites. This appears the more possible, 
since unfortunately even among us Christians there sometimes 
exist such sects which are no less horrible and incomprehensible. 
In a word, I do not for a moment think that this custom is com- 
mon to all Jews, but I do not deny the possibility that there may 
be among them fanatics just as horrible as among us Christians. 

Having taken this idea into his head, Nicholas I. refused 
to sign the second decision of the Council of State, which was 
closely allied with the verdict: that all governors be instructed 
to be guided in the future by the ukase of 1817, forbidding 
to stir up ritual murder cases " from prejudice only/' While 
rejecting this perjudice in its full-fledged shape, the Tzar 
acknowledged it in part, in a somewhat attenuated form. 

Towards the end of January of 1835 an imperial ukase 
reached the city of Velizh, ordering the liberation of the ex- 
culpated Jews, the reopening of the synagogues, which had 
been sealed since 1826, and the handing back to the Jews of 
the holy scrolls which had been confiscated by the police. The 
dungeon was now ready to give up its inmates, whose strength 
had been sapped by the long confinement, while several of 
them had died during the imprisonment. The synagogues, 
which had not been allowed to resound with the moans of the 
martyrs, were now opened for the prayers of the liberated. The 
state of siege which for nine long years had been throttling the 
city was at last taken off; the terror which had haunted the 


ostracized community came to an end. A new leaf was added 
to the annals of Jewish martyrdom, one of the gloomiest* in 
spite of its u happy " finale. 

7. The Mstislavl Affair 

The ritual murder trials did not exhaust the "extraordi- 
nary" afflictions of Nicholas 9 reign. There were cases of 
wholesale chastisements inflicted on more tangible grounds, 
when misdeeds of a few individuals were puffed up into com- 
munal crimes and visited cruelly upon entire communities. 
The conscription horrors of that period, when the Kahals 
were degraded to police agencies for " capturing " recruits, had 
bred the " informing " disease among the Jewish communities. 
They produced the type of professional informer, or moser, 1 
who blackmailed the Kahal authorities of his town by threaten- 
ing to disclose their " abuses," the absconding of candidates 
for the army and various irregularities in carrying out the 
conscription, and in this way extorted " silence money " from 
them. These scoundrels made life intolerable, and there were 
occasions when the people took the law into their own hands 
and secretly dispatched the most objectionable among them. 

A case of this kind came to light in the government of 
Podolia in 1836. In the town Novaya Ushitza two mosers, 
named Oxman and Schwartz, who had terrorized the Jews of 
the whole province, were found dead. Bumor had it that the 
one was killed in the synagogue and the other on the road to 
the town. The Russian authorities regarded the crime as the 
collective work of the local Jewish community, or rather of 
several neighboring Jewish communities, " which had perpe- 
trated this wicked deed by the verdict of their own tribunal." 

[' The Hebrew and Yiddish equivalent for " informer."] 


About eighty Kahal elders and other prominent Jews of 
Ushitza and adjacent towns, including two rabbis, were put 
on trial. The case was submitted to a court-martial which 
resolved " to subject the guilty to an exemplary punishment. 9 
Twenty Jews were sentenced to hard labor and to penal mili- 
tary service, with a preliminary " punishment by 8pvessru- 
ten through five hundred men." 1 A like number were 
sentenced to be deported to Siberia; the rest were either ac- 
quitted or had fled from justice. Many of those who ran 
the gauntlet died under the strokes, and are remembered by 
the Jewish people in Russia as martyrs. 

The scourge of informers was also responsible for the 
Mstislavl affair. In 1844, a Jewish crowd in the market-place 
of Mstislavl, a town in the government of Moghilev, came into 
conflict with a detachment of soldiers who were searching for 
contraband goods in a Jewish warehouse. The results of the 
fray were a few bruised Jews and several broken rifles. The 
local polke and military authorities seized this opportunity to 
ingratiate themselves with their superiors, and reported to the 
governor of Moghilev and the commander of the garrison that 
the Jews had organized a a mutiny." The local informer, 
Arye Briakin, a converted Jew, found this incident an equally 
convenient occasion to wreak vengeance on his former 
coreligionists for the contempt in which he was hejd by them, 
and allowed himself to be taken into tow by the official 

In January, 1844, alarming communications concerning a 
u Jewish mutiny " reached St. Petersburg. The matter was 

[* Both the word and the penalty were introduced by Peter the 
Great from Germany. The culprit was made to run between two 
lines of soldiers who whipped his bare shoulders with rods. The 
penalty was abolished in 1863.] 


reported to the Tzar, and a swift and curt resolution followed : 
"To court-martial the principal culprits implicated in this 
incident, and, in the meantime, as a punishment for the tur- 
bulent demeanor of the Jews of that city, to take from them 
one recruit for every ten men." Once more the principles of 
that period were applied: one for all; first punishment, then 

The ukase arrived in Mstislavl on the ere of Purim, and 
threw the Jews into consternation. During the Fast of Esther 
the synagogues resounded with wailing. The city was in a 
state of terror : the most prominent leaders of the community 
were thrown into jail, and had to submit to disfigurement by 
having half of their heads and beards shaved off. The penal 
recruits were hunted down, without any regard to age, since, 
according to the Tzar's resolution, a tenth of the population 
had to be impressed into military service. Pending the termi- 
nation of the trial, no Jew was allowed to leave the city, while 
natives from Mstislavl in other places were captured and 
conveyed to their native town. A large Jewish community 
was threaded with complete axmihilation. 

The Jews of Mstislavl, through their spokesmen, petitioned 
St. Petersburg to wait with the penal conscription until the 
conclusion of the trial, and endeavored to convince the central 
Government that the local administration had misrepresented 
the character of the incident. To save his brethren, the 
popular champion of the interests of his people, the merchant 
Isaac Zelikin, of Monastyrchina, 1 called affectionately Rabbi 
Itzele, journeyed to the capital. He managed to get the ear 
of the Chief of the " Third Section " * and to acquaint him 

[» A townlet in the neighborhood of Mstislavl.] 
[' See above, p. 21, n. 1.] 


with the honors which were being perpetrated by the authori- 
ties in Mstislavl. 

As a result, two commissioners were dispatched from St. 
Petersburg in quick succession. On investigating the matter 
on the spot, they discovered the machinations of the over- 
zealous officials and apostasized informers who had represented 
a street quarrel as an organized uprising. The new commis- 
sion of inquiry, of which one of the St. Petersburg commission- 
ers, Count Trubetzkoy, was a member, disclosed the fact that 
the Jewish community as such had had nothing whatsoever to 
do with what had occurred. The findings of the commission 
resulted in an " Imperial Act of Grace " : the imprisoned Jews 
were set at liberty, the penal conscripts were returned from ser- 
vice, several loeal officials were put on trial, and the governor 
of Moghilev was severely censured. 

This took place in November, 1844, after the Mstislavl com- 
munity had for nine long months tasted the horrors of a state 
of siege. The synogagues were filled with Jews praising God 
for the relief granted to them. The community decreed to 
commemorate annually the day before Purim, on which the 
ukase inflicting severe punishment on the Jews of Mstislavl 
was promulgated, as a day of fasting and to celebrate the third 
day of the month of Kislev, on which the cruel ukase was 
revoked, as a day of rejoicing. Had all the disasters of that 
era been perpetuated in the same manner, the Jewish calendar 
would consist entirely of these commemorations of national 
misfortunes, whether in the form of " ordinary* persecutions 
or " extraordinary " affliction* 


1. Plans of Jewish Emancipation 

Special mention must be made of the position occupied 
by the Jews in the vast province which had been formed in 
1815 out of the territory of the former duchy of Warsaw and 
annexed by Russia under the name of " Kingdom of Poland/' * 
This province which from 1815 to 1830 enjoyed full autonomy, 
with a local government in Warsaw and a parliamentary con- 
stitution, handled the affairs of its large Jewish population, 
numbering between three hundred to four hundred thousand 
souls, independently and without regard to the legislation of 
the Bussian Empire. Even after the insurrection of 1830, 
when subdued Poland was linked more closely with the 
Empire, the Jews continued to be subject to a separate provin- 
cial legislation. The Jews of the Kingdom remained under 
the tutelage of local guardians who were assiduously engaged 
in solving the Jewish problem during the first part of this 

The initial years of autonomous Poland were a time of 
storm and stress. After having experienced the vicissitudes 
of the period of partitions and the hopes and disappointments 
of the Napoleonic era, the Polish people clutched eagerly at 
the shreds of political freedom which were left to it by 
Alexander I. in the shape of the " Constitutional Regulation " 
of 1815/ The Poles brought to bear upon the upbuilding of 

[* Compare vol. I, p. 390, n. 1.] 

[' The author refers to the Constitution granted by Alexander L, 
on November 15, 1815, to the Polish territories ceded to him by 
the Congress of Vienna. The Constitution vouchsafed to Poland 
an autonomous development under Russian auspices. It was 
withdrawn after the insurrection of 1830.] 


the new kingdom all the ardor of their national soul and all 
their enthusiasm for political regeneration. The feverish 
organizing activity between 1815 and 1820 was attended by 
a violent outburst of national sentiment, and such moments 
of enthusiasm were always accompanied in Poland by an 
intolerant and unfriendly attitude towards the Jews. With 
a few shining exception*, the Polish statesmen were far re- 
moved from the idea of Jewish emancipation. They favored 
either " correctional " or punitive methods, though modelled 
after the pattern of Western European rather than of primi- 
tive Russian anti-Semitism. 

In 1815 the Provisional Government in Warsaw appointed 
a special committee, under the chairmanship of Count Adam 
Chartoryski, to consider the agrarian and the Jewish problem. 
The Committee drew up a general plan of Jewish reorganiza- 
tion which was marked by the spirit of enlightened patronage. 
In theory the Committee was ready to concede to the Jews 
human and civil rights, even to the point of considering the 
necessity of their final emancipation. But "in view of the 
ignorance, the prejudices and the moral corruption to be 
observed among the lower classes of the Jewish and the Polish 
people " — the patrician members of the Committee in charge 
of the agrarian and Jewish problem accorded an equal share of 
compliments to the Jews and the Polish peasants— immediate 
emancipation was, in their opinion, bound to prove harmful, 
since it would confer upon the Jews freedom of action to the 
detriment of the country. It was, therefore, necessary to 
demand, as a prerequisite for Jewish emancipation, the im- 
provement of the Jewish masses which was to be effected by 
removal from the injurious liquor trade and inducement to 
engage in agriculture, by abolishing the Kahals, i. e., their 



communal autonomy, and by changing the Jewish school sys- 
tem to meet the civic requirements. In order to gain the confi- 
dence of the Jews for the proposed reforms, the Committee sug- 
gested that the Government should invite the " enlightened " 
representatives of the Jewish people to participate in the dis- 
cussion of the projected measures of reform. 

Turning their eyes towards the West, where Jewish assimila- 
tion had already begun its course, the Polish Committee de- 
cided to approach the Jewish reformer David Friedlander, 
of Berlin, who was, so to speak, the official philosopher of 
Jewish emancipation, and to solicit his opinion concerning the 
ways and means of bringing about a reorganization of Jewish 
life in Poland. The bishop of Kuyavia, 1 Malchevski, ad- 
dressed himself in the name of the Polish Government to 
Priedlander, calling upon him, as a pupil of Mendelssohn, the 
educator of Jewry, to state his views on the proposed Jewish 
reforms in Poland. Flattered by this invitation, Friedlander 
hastened to compose an elaborate " Opinion on the Improve- 
ment of the Jews in the Kingdom of Poland." * 

According to Friedlander, the Polish Jews had in point 
ol culture remained far behind their Western coreligionists, 
because their progress had been hampered by their talmudic 
training, the pernicious doctrine of Hasidism, and the self- 
government of their Kahals. All these influences ought, there- 
fore, to be combated. The Jewish school should be brought 
into closer contact with the Polish school, the Hebrew language 
should be replaced by the language of the country, and alto- 
gether assimilation and religious reform should be encouraged. 
While promoting religious and cultural reforms, the Govern- 

t* A former Polish province, compare voL I, p. 76, n. *.] 

•It was written In February, 1816, ana published late In 1819. 


ment, in the opinion of Friedlander, ought to confirm the Jews 
in the belief that they would " receive in time civil rights if they 
were to endeavor to perfect themselves in the spirit of the 
regulations issued for them." 

This flunkeyish notion of the necessity of deserving civil 
rights coincided with the views of the official Polish Committee 
'in Warsaw. Soon afterwards a memorandum, prepared by 
the Committee, was submitted through its Chairman, Count 
Chartoryski, to the Polish viceroy Zayonchek. 1 Formerly 
a comrade of Koszciuszko, Zayonchek later turned from 
a revolutionary into a reactionary, who was anxious to curry 
favor with the supreme commander of the province, Grand 
Duke Constantine Pavlovich." No wonder, therefore, that the 
plan of the Committee, conservative though it was, seemed 
too liberal for his liking. In his report to Emperor Alexander 
I., dated March 8, 1816, he wrote as follows : 

The growth of the Jewish population in your Kingdom of 
Poland is becoming a menace. In 1790 they formed here a thir- 
teenth part of the whole population; to-day they form no less than 
an eighth. Sober and resourceful, they are satisfied with little; 
they earn their livelihood by cheating, and, owing to early mar- 
riages, multiply beyond measure. Shunning hard labor, they 
produce nothing themselves, and live only at the expense of the 
working classes which they help to ruin. Their peculiar institu- 
tions keep them apart within the state, marking them as a 
foreign nationality, and, as a result, they are unable in their 
present condition to furnish the state either with good citizens 
1 or with capable soldiers. Unless means are adopted to utilize for 
the common weal the useful qualities of the Jews, they will soon 

[ 1 He was appointed viceroy in 1815, after the formation of 
the Kingdom of Poland, and continued in this office until his death 
in 1826.] 

[* He was the military commander of the province. See above, 
p. 13, n. 2.] 


exhaust all the sources of the national wealth and will threaten 
to surpass and suppress the Christian population. 

In the same year, 1816, a scheme looking to the solution of 
the Jewish question was proposed by the Russian statesman 
Nicholas Novosiltzev, the imperial commissioner attached to 
the Provincial Government in Warsaw. 1 KTovostltzev, who 
was not sympathetic to the Poles, showed himself in his project 
to be a friend of the Jews. Instead of the principle laid down 
by the official Committee: "correction first, and civil rights 
last," he suggests another more liberal procedure: the im- 
mediate bestowal of civil and in part even political rights upon 
the Jews, to be accompanied by a reorganization of Jewish 
life along the lines of European progress and a modernized 
scheme of autonomy. All communal and cultural affairs shall 
be put in charge of " directorates," one central directorate in 
Warsaw and local ones in every province of the Kingdom, 
after the pattern of the Jewish consistories of France. These 
directorates shall be composed of rabbis, elders of the com- 
munity, and a commissioner representing the Government; in 
the central directorate this commissioner shall be replaced 
by a " procurator " to be appointed directly by the king. 

This whole organization shall be placed under the jurisdic- 
tion of the Minister of Public Instruction who shall also ex- 
ercise the right of confirming the rabbis nominated by the 
directorates. The functions of the directorates shall include 
the registration of the Jewish population, the management 
of the communal finances, the dispensation of charity, and the 
opening of secular schools for Jewish children. A certificate 
of graduation from such a school shall be required from every 
young man who applies for a marriage license or for a permit 
to engage in a craft or to acquire property. "All Jews f ul- 

[ a See above, p. 16.] 


filling the obligations imposed by the present statute shall be 
accorded full citizenship," while those who distinguish them- 
selves in science and art may even be deemed worthy of politi- 
cal rights, not excluding membership in the Polish Diet For 
the immediate future Novoeiltzev advises to refrain from 
economic restrictions, such as the prohibition of the liquor 
traffic, though he concedes the advisability of checking its 
' growth, and advocates the adoption of a system of economic 
reforms by stimulating crafts and agriculture among the Jews. 
In the beginning of 1817 KTovosiltzev's project was laid 
before the Polish Council of State. It was opposed with great 
stubbornness by Chartoryski, the Polish viceroy Zayon- 
chek, Stashitz, and other Polish dignitaries, whose hostility 
was directed not so much against the pro-Jewish plan as 
against its Bussian author. The Council of State appointed 
a special committee which, after examining Novo8iltzev*s 
project, arrived at the following conclusions: 

1. It is impossible to carry out a reorganization of Jewish life 
through the Jews themselves. 

2. The establishment of a separate cultural organization for 
the Jews will only stimulate their national aloofness. 

3. The complete civil and political emancipation of the Jews la 
at variance with the Polish Constitution which vouchsafes special 
privileges to the professors of the dominant religion. 

In the plenary session of the Polish Council of State the 
debate about Novosiltzev's project was exceedingly stormy. 
The Polish members of the Council scented in the project 
"political aims in opposition to the national element of the 
country." They emphasized the danger which the immediate 
emancipation of the Jews would entail for Poland. " Let the 
Jews first become real Poles," exclaimed the referee Kozhmyan, 

then will it be possible to look upon them as citizens." When 



the same gentleman declared that it was impossible to accord 
citizenship to hordes of people who first had to be accustomed 
to cleanliness and cured from " leprosy and similar diseases/ 9 
Zayonchek burst out laughing and shouted: "Hear, hear! 
These sluts won't get rid of their scab so easily." After such 
elevating "criticism,'' NovosiWs project L voted down. 
The Council inclined to the belief that " the psychological 
moment" for bringing about a radical reorganization of the 
inner life of the Jews had not yet arrived, and, therefore, 
resolved to limit itself to isolated measures, principally of a 
*' correctional " and repressive character. 

2. Political Reaction and Literacy Anti-Semitism 

Such "measures" were not long in coming. The only 
Testriction the Government c%Warsaw failed to carry through 
was the enforcement of the law of 1812 forbidding the Jews 
to deal in liquor. This drastic measure was vetoed by Alex- 
ander I., owing to the representations of the Jewish deputies 
in St Petersburg, and in 1816 the Polish viceroy was com- 
pelled to announce the suspension of this cruel law which 
had hung like the sword of Damocles over the heads of 
hundreds of thousands of Jews. 

On the other hand, the Polish Government managed in the 
course of a few years (1816-1823) tp put into operation a 
number of other restrictive laws. Several cities which boasted 
of the ancient right de non tolerandis Judaeis * secured the 
confirmation of this shameful privilege, with the result that 
the JewB who had settled there during the existence of the 
duchy of Warsaw were either expelled or confined to separate 
districts. In Warsaw a number of streets were closed to 

[' S6e vol. I, pp. 85 and 95.] 


Jewish residents, and all Jewish visitors to the capital were 
forced to pay a heavy tax for their right of sojourn, the so- 
called * ticket impost," amounting to fifteen kopecks (7£c) a 
day. Finally the Jews were forbidden to settle within twenty- 
one versts of the Austrian and Prussian frontiers. 1 

At the same time, the Polish legislators were fair-minded 
enough to refrain from forcing the Jews, these disfranchised 
pariahs, into military service. In 1817 an announcement 
was made to the effect that, so long as the Jews were barred 
from the enjoyment of .civil rights, they would be released 
from personal military service in Poland, in lieu whereof they 
were to pay a fixed conscription tax. About the same time, 
during the third decade of the nineteenth century, was also 
realized the old-time policy of curtailing the Jewish Kahal 
autonomy, though, as will be sec&i later, this "reform" did 
not proceed from the Government spheres, but was rather the 
product of contemporary social movements among the Poles 
and the Jews. 

The political literature of Poland manifested at that time 
a tendency similar to the one which had prevailed during the 
Quadrennial Diet.' Scores of pamphlets and magazine articles 
discussed with polemical ardor the Jewish problem, the burn- 
ing question of the day. The old Jew-baiter Stashitz, a mem- 
ber of the Warsaw Government who served on the Commission 
of Public Instruction and Beligious Denominations, resumed 
his attacks on Judaism. In 1816 he published an article under 
the title " Concerning the Causes of the Obnoxiousness of the 
Jews/' in which he asserted that the Jews were responsible for 

P The law in question was passed by the Polish Government on 
January 31, 1823, barring the Jews from nearly one hundred towns. 
It was repealed by Alexander II. in 1862. See below, p. 181.] 

£* Compare voL I, p. 279 et teq.J 


Poland's decline. They multiplied with incredible rapidity, 
forming now no less than an eighth of the population. Should 
this process continue, the Kingdom of Poland would be turned 
into a "Jewish country" and become "the laughing-stock 
of the whole of Europe." The Jewish religion is antagonistic 
to Catholicism: we call them "Old Testament believers,"* 
while they brand us as "pagans." It being impossible to 
expel the Jews from Poland, they ought to be isolated like 
carriers of disease. They should be concentrated in separate 
quarters in the cities to facilitate the supervision oyer them. 
Only well-deserring merchants and craftsmen, who have plied 
their trade honestly for five or ten years, should be allowed to 
reside outside the ghetto. The same category of Jews, in addi- 
tion to those married to Christian women, should also be 
granted the right of acquiring landed property. The ghetto 
on the one end of the line, and baptism on the other — this 
medieval policy did not in the least abash the patriotic re- 
formers of the type of Stashitz. 

Stashitz's point of view was supported by certain publicists 
and opposed by others, but all wefre agreed on the necessity of 
a system of correction for the Jews. The discussion became 
particularly heated in 1818, after the convocation and during 
the sessions of the first * Polish Diet in Warsaw. Three differ- 
ent tendencies asserted themselves: a moderate, an anti- 
Jewish, and a pro- Jewish tendency. The first was represented 
by General Vincent Krasinski, a member of the Diet. In his 
" Observations on the Jews of Poland/ 9 he proceeds from the 
following twofold premise: "The voice of the whole nation 

[ l Referring to the term Starozakonni, the Polish designation 
for Jews.] 

[ a I. e., the first to be convoked after the reconstitution of 
Poland in 1815.] 


is raised against the Jews, and it demands their transforma- 
tion." This titled publicist declares himself an opponent of 
the JewB as they are at present. He shares the popular dread 
of their multiplication, the fear of a " Jewish Poland/' and is 
somewhat sceptical about their being corrigible. Nevertheless 
he proposes liberal methods of correction, such as the encour- 
agement of big Jewish capital, the promotion of agriculture 
and handicrafts among the Jewish masses, and the bestowal 
of the rights of citizenship upon those worthy of it. 

Krasinski was attacked by an anonymous writer in an 
anti-Semitic pamphlet entitled " A Bemedy against the Jews." 
Proceeding from the conviction that no reforms, however well 
conceived, could have any effect on the Jews, the writer puts 
the question in a simplified form: "Shall we sacrifice the 
welfare of three million Poles to that of 300,000 Jews, or 
vice versa?" His answer is just as simple; the 'Jews should 
be forced to leave Poland. Emperor Alexander I., " the bene- 
factor of Poland," ought to be petitioned to rid the country 
of the Jews by transferring them to the uninhabited steppes 
in the South of Bussia or even "on the borders of Great 
Tartary.* The 300,000 Jews might be divided into 300 
parties and settled there in the course of one year. The 
means for expelling and settling the Jews should be furnished 
by the Jews themselves. 

This barbarous project aroused the ire of a noble-minded 
Polish army officer, Valerian Lukasinski, a radical in politics, 
who subsequently landed in the dungeon of the Schlueselburg 
fortress. 1 In his " Beflections of an Army Officer Concerning 
tiie Need of Organizing the Jews," published in 1818, Luka- 
sinski advances the thought that the oppression and disf ran- 

[*In the government of St Petersburg.] 


chisement of the Jews are alone responsible for their de- 
moralized condition. They were useful citizens in the golden 
age of Casimir the Great and Sigismnnd the Old 1 when they 
were treated with kindness. The author lashes the hypocrisy 
of the Shlakhta who hold the JewB to account for ruining the 
peasants by selling them alcohol in those very taverns which 
are leased to them by the noble pans. Lukasinski contends 
& that the Jews will become good citizens once they will be 
allowed to participate in the civil life of Poland, when that 
life will be founded on democratic principles. 

The choir of Polish voices was but faintly disturbed by 
the opinions expressed by the JewB. An otherwise unknown 
rabbi, who calls himself Moses ben Abraham, echoes in his 
pamphlet " The Voice of the People of Israel " the sentiments 
of Jewish orthodoxy. He begs the Poles not to meddle in 
the inner affairs of Judiasm: "Ton refuse to recognize us 
as brothers; then at least respect us as fathers ! Look at your 
genealogical tree with the brandies of the New Testament, 
and you will find the roots in us." Polish culture cannot be 
foisted upon the Jews. Barbarous as may appear the plan of 
expelling the Jews from Poland, the persecuted tribe will 
rather submit to this alternative than renounce its faith and 
its ancestral customs. 

The views of the progressive Jews of Poland were voiced 
by a young pedagogue in Warsaw, subsequently the well-known 
champion of assimilation, Jacob Tugenhold. In a treatise 
entitled u Jerubbaal, or a Word Concerning the Jews," Tugen- 
' hold contends that the Jews have already begun to assimilate 
themselves to Polish culture. It was now within the power 

[•I. (?., Sigismund I. (1506-1548). See oh his attitude towards 
the Jews voL I, p. 71 et aeq.1 


of the Government to strengthen this movement by admitting 
" distinguished Jews to civil service/' 

While this literary feud concerning the problem of Judaism 
was raging, an unhealthy movement against the Jews started 
among the dregs of the Polish population. In several localities 
of the Kingdom there suddenly appeared " victims of ritual 
murder " in the shape of dead bodies of children, the discovery 
of which was followed by a series of legal trials against the 
Jews (1816-1816). Innocent people were thrown into prison, 
where they languished for years, and were subjected to cross- 
examinations, though without the inquisitorial apparatus of 
ancient Poland. It is impossible to say whither this orgy of 
superstition might have led, had it not been stopped by a word 
of command from St Petersburg. In 1817, as a result of the 
energetic representations of "the Deputies of the Jewish 
People," * Sonnenberg and his fellow-workers, the Minister of 
Ecclesiastical Affairs, Qolitzin, gave orders that the ukase which 
had just been issued by him, forbidding the arbitrary injection 
of a ritual element into criminal cases, be strictly enf orced in 
the Kingdom of Poland. This action saved the lives of scores 
of prisoners, and put a stop to the obscure agitation which 
endeavored to revive the medieval spectre. 

The Polish Diet of 1818 reflected the same state of mind 
which had previously found expression in political literature : 
an unmistakable preponderance of the anti-Jewish element. 
Some of the deputies appealed to Alexander I. in their speeches 
and openly called upon him to give orders to lay before the 
next session of the Diet u a project of Jewish reform, with a 
view to saving Poland from the excessive growth of the Hebrew 
tribe, which now forms a seventh of all the inhabitants, and 

E 1 Compare vol. I, p. 394, and above, p. 74.] 


in a few years will surpass in numbers the Christian population 
of the country ." For the immediate future the deputies 
recommend the enforcement of the suspended law barring 
the Jews from the liquor traffic * and their subjection to mili- 
tary conscription. 

One might have thought that the Diet had no need of extra 
measures to " curb w the Jews. It was quite enough that it 
tacitly sanctioned the prolongation of the ten years term of 
Jewish rightlessness which had been fixed by the Government 
of the Varsovian duchy in 1808.* This term ended in 1818, 
while the first Diet of the Kingdom of Poland was holding its 
sessions, but neither the Polish Diet nor the Polish Council 
of State gave any serious thought to the question whether the 
Government of the province had a right to prolong the dis- 
franchisement of the Jews. This right was taken for granted 
by the Polish legislators who were planning even harsher re- 
strictions for the unloved tribe of Hebrews. 

3. assimilattonist tendencies among the jews of 


In the beginning of the third decade of the nineteenth 
century the noise caused by the Jewish question had begun to 
subside both in Polish political circles and in Polish literature. 
Instead, the agitation within the Jewish ranks became more 
vigorous. That group of Jews already assimilated or thirsting 
for assimilation, which on an earlier occasion, during the 
existence of the Varsovian duchy, had segregated itself from 
the rest of Jewry, assuming the label of "Old Testament 
believers,"* occupied a very influential position within the 

t 1 Compare vol. I, p. 304, and above, p. 94.] 
[• Compare vol. I, p. 299.] 
[• See above, p. 96, n. L] 


Jewish community of the Polish capital. It was made up of 
wealthy bankers and merchants and boasted of a few men with 
a European education. The members of this group were hank- 
ering after German models and were anxious to renounce the 
national separatism of the Jews which was a standing rebuke 
in the mouths of their enemies. To these " Old Testament 
believers" the abolition of the Kahal and the limitation of 
communal self-government to the narrow range of synagogue 
interests appeared the surest remedy against anti-Semitism. 
Behind the abrogation of communal autonomy they saw the 
smiling vision of a Jewish school-reform, leading to the Polon- 
izatum of Jewish education, while in the far-off distance they 
could discern the promised land of equal citizenship. 

The efforts of the Jewish reformers of Warsaw were now 
systematically directed towards this goal. In 1820 there 
appeared an anonymous pamphlet under the title " The Peti- 
tion, or Self-defence, of the Members of the Old Testament 
Persuasion in the Kingdom of Poland." The main purpose of 
this publication is to show that the root of the evil lies in the 
Kahal organization, in the elders, rabbis, and burial societies, 
who expend enormous sums of taxation money without any 
control — i. «., without the control of the Polish municipality — 
who oppress the people by their herems (excommunications), 
and altogether abuse their power. It is, therefore, necessary 
to abolish this power of the Kahals and transfer it to the 
Polish municipalities, or even police authorities ; only then will 
order be established in the Jewish communities, and the Jews 
will be transformed into " useful citizens/' 

The Government spheres of Poland were greatly pleased by 
these utterances of the " Old Testament believers " of Warsaw. 
They had long contemplated the curtailment of the autonomy 


of the Kahals, and now " the very Jews " clamored for it. In 
consequence, there appeared in 1821 a series of edicts by the 
viceroy and various rescripts by the Commission of Public 
Instruction and Beligious Denominations, resulting in the 
demolition of the ancient communal scheme, in which certain 
forms of self-government, but by no means its underlying 
fundamental principles, had become obsolete. 

These measures were sanctioned by an imperial ukase dated 
December 20, 1821/ decreeing the abolition of the Kahals and 
their substitution by "Congregational Boards," whose scope 
of activity was strictly limited to religious matters, while all 
civil and fiscal affairs were placed under the jurisdiction of 
the local Polish administration. The Congregational Boards 
were to consist of the rabbi, his assistant or substitute, and 
three trustees or supervisors. 

At first, the majority of Jewish communities in Poland 
were indignant at this curtailment of their autonomy, and 
adopted a hostile attitude towards the new communal organ- 
ization. The "supervisors" elected on the Congregational 
Boards often refused to serve, and the authorities were com- 
pelled to appoint them. But in the course of time the com- 
munities became reconciled to the new scheme of congrega- 
tions, or Gminas,* whose range of activity was gradually 
widened. In 1830 the suffrage of the Polish Jews within the 
Jewish communities was restricted by a new law to persons 
possessed of a certain amount of property. The result was 
particularly noticeable in Warsaw where the new state of 
things helped to strengthen the influence of the group of the 

1 Corresponding to January 1, 1822, of the West-European 

[* Qmina is the Polish word for community, derived from the 
German Qemeinde.] 


"Old Testament believers" and enabled them to gain con- 
trol of the affairs of the metropolitan community. The leaders 
of Warsaw Jewry managed soon to establish intimate rela- 
tions with the Polish Government, and co-operated with it in 
bringing about the " cultural reforms w of the Jews of Poland. 

In 1825 the Polish Government appointed a special body 
to deal with Jewish affairs. It was called " Committee of 
Old Testament Believers/' though composed in the main 
of Polish officials. It was supplemented by an advisory council 
consisting of five public-spirited JewB and their alternates. 
Among the members of the Committee, which included several 
prominent Jewish merchants of Warsaw, such as Jacob Berg- 
son, M. Kavski, Solomon Posner, T. Teplitz, was also the 
well-known mathematician Abraham Stern, one of the few 
cultured Jews of that period who remained a steadfast up- 
holder of Jewish tradition. The " Committee of Old Testa- 
ment Believers " embarked upon the huge task of civilizing 
the Jews of Poland and purging the Jewish religion of its 
superstitious excrescences. 

The first step taken by the Committee was the establishment 
of a Babbinical Seminary in Warsaw for the training of 
modernized rabbis, teachers, and communal workers. The 
program of the school was arranged with a view to the Poloni- 
zation of its pupils. The language of instruction was Polish, 
and the teachers of many secular subjects were Christians. 
No wonder then that when the Seminary was opened in 1826, 
Stern refused to accept the post of director which had been 
offered to him, and yielded his plaoe to Anton Bisenbaum, 
a radical assimilator. The tendency of the school may be 
gauged from the fact that the department of Hebrew and Bible 
was entrusted to Abraham Buchner, who had gained notoriety 



by a German pamphlet entitled Die Nichtigkeit des Talmuds, 
« The Worthlessness of the Talmud." * 

Characteristically enough, Buchner had been recommended 
by the ferocious Jew-baiter Abb6 Chiarini, a member of the 
" Committee of Old Testament Believers," which, one might 
almost suspect, was charged with the supervision of Jewish edu- 
cation for no other reason than that to spite the Jews. Chiarini 
was professor of Oriental Languages at the University of War- 
saw. As such he considered himself an expert in Hebrew 
literature, and cherished the plan of translating the Talmud 
into French to unveil the secrets of Judaism before the Chris- 
tian world. In 1828 Chiarini suggested to the " Committee 
of Old Testament Believers " to arrange a course in Hebrew 
Archaeology at the Warsaw University for the purpose of 
acquainting Christian students with rabbinic literature and 
thus equipping prospective Polish officials with a knowledge of 
things Jewish. The plan having been approved by the Govern- 
ment, Chiarini began to deliver a course of lectures on Judaism. 
The fruit of these lectures was a French publication, issued 
in 1829 under the title Theorie du Judaisms. It was an igno- 
rant libel upon the Talmud and rabbinism, a worthy counter- 
part of Eisenmenger's "Judaism Exposed/" Chiarini did 
not even shrink from repeating the hideous lie about the use 
of Christian blood by the Jews. He was taken to task by 
Jacob Tugenhold in Warsaw and by Jost and Zunz in Ger- 
many. Tet the evil seed had sunk into the soil. Polish society, 

1 He was also the author of a Jewish catechism In Hebrew, 
entitled Yes ode ha-Dat, "The Fundamental Principles of the 
Jewish Religion." 

[* The book of a famous anti-Semitic writer who lived in Ger- 
many in the seventeenth century. Entdecktes Judentum, the book 
referred to in the text, appeared in 1700.] 


which had long harbored unfriendly sentiments against the 
Jews, became more and more permeated with anti-Semitic bias, 
and this bias found tangible expression during the insurrec- 
tion of 1830-1831. 

4. The Jews and the Polish Insubbection of 1831 

When, under the effect of the July revolution in Paris, the 
"November insurrection " of 1830 broke out in Warsaw, it 
put on its mettle that section of Polish Jewry who hoped to 
improve the Jewish lot by their patriotic ardor. In the month 
of December one of the " Old Testament believers," Stanislav 
Hernish, 1 addressed himself to the Polish dictator, Khlopitzki, 
in the name of a group of Jewish youths, assuring him of their 
eagerness to form a special detachment of volunteers to help 
in the common task of liberating their fatherland. The dicta- 
tor replied that, inasmuch as the Jews had no civil rights, 
they could not be permitted to serve in the army. The Min- 
ister of War Moravski delivered himself on this occasion of the 
following characteristic utterance: "We cannot allow that 
Jewish blood should mingle with the noble blood of the Poles. 
What will Europe say when she learns that in fighting for our 
liberty we have not been able to get along without Jewish 

The insulting refusal did not cool the ardor of the Jewish 
patriots. Joseph Berkovich, the son of Berek Yoselovitch, 
who had laid down his life for the Polish cause, decided to 
repeat his father's experiment 1 and issued a proclamation to 
the Jews, calling upon them to join the ranks of the fighters 

[* Polish patriot and publicist He subsequently fled to France. 
See later, p. 109.] 

[* Compare vol. I, p. 293 et seqJ] 



for Polish independence. The " National Government" in 
Warsaw could not resist this patriotic pressure. It addressed 
itself to the " Congregational Board " of Warsaw, inquiring 
about the attitude of the Jewish community towards the pro- 
jected formation of a separate regiment of Jewish volunteers. 
The Board replied that the community had already given 
proofs of its patriotism by contributing 40,000 Gulden towards 
the revolutionary funds, and by collecting further contribu- 
tions towards the equipment of volunteers. The formation 
of a special Jewish regiment the Board did not consider ad- 
visable, inasmuch as such action was not in keeping with the 
task of uniting all citizens in the defence of the fatherland. 
Instead, the Board favored the distribution of the Jewish 
volunteers over the whole army. 

From now on the Jews were admitted to military service, 
but more into the militia than into the regular army. The 
commander of the National Guard in Warsaw, Anton Ostrov- 
ski, one of the few rebel leaders who were not swayed by the 
anti-Semitic prejudices of the Polish nobility, admitted into 
his militia many Jewish volunteers on condition that they 
shave off their beards. Owing to the religious scruples of 
many Jewish soldiers, the latter condition had to be abandoned, 
and a special " bearded " detachment of the metropolitan guard 
was formed, comprising 850 Jews. 

The Jewish militia acquitted itself nobly of its duly in the 
grave task of protecting the city of Warsaw against the onrush 
of the Russian troops. The sons of wealthy families fought 
shoulder to shoulder with children of the proletariat. The 
sight of these step-children of Poland fighting for their father- 
land stirred the heart of Ostrovski, and he subsequently wrote : 
" This spectacle could not fail to make your heart ache. Our 


confidence bade us to attend to the betterment of this most 
down-trodden part of our population at the earliest possible 

It is worthy of note that the wave of Polish-Jewish patriot- 
ism did not spread beyond Warsaw. In the provincial towns 
the inhabitants of the ghetto were, as a rule, unwilling to serve 
in the army, on the ground that the Jewish religion forbade 
the shedding of human blood. This indifference aroused the 
ire of the Polish population, which threatened to wreak venge- 
ance upon the Jews, suspecting them of pro-Russian sym- 
pathies. Ostrovski's remark with reference to this situa- 
tion deserves to be quoted: "True," he said, "the Jews of 
the provinces may possibly be guilty of indifference towards 
the revolutionary cause, but can we expect any other attitude 
from those we oppress? " 1 It may be added that soon after- 
wards the question of military service as affecting the Jews 
was solved by the Diet. By the law of May 30, 1831, the Jews 
were released from conscription on the payment of a tax which 
was four times as large as the one paid by them in former 

When the " aristocratic revolution/' having failed to obtain 
the support of the disinherited masses, had met with disaster, 
the revolutionary leaders, who saved themselves by fleeing 
abroad, indulged in remorseful reflections. The Polish histor- 
ian Lelevel, who lived in Paris as a refugee, issued in 1832 
a " Manifesto to the Israelitish Nation," calling upon the Jews 

*In the Western provinces outside the Kingdom of Poland, in 
Lithuania, Volhynia, and Podolia, the Jewish population held 
Itself aloof from the insurrectionary movement Here and there 
the Jews even sympathized with the Russian Government, despite 
the fact that the latter threw the Polish rulers into the shade by 
the extent of its Jewish persecutions. In some places the Polish 
insurgents made the Jews pay with their lives for their pro- 
Russian sympathies. 


to forget the insults inflicted upon them by present-day Poland 
for the sake of the sweet reminiscences of the Polish Kepublic 
in days gone by and of the hopes inspired by a free Poland in 
days to come. He compares the flourishing condition of the 
Jews in the ancient Polish commonwealth with their present 
status on the same territory, under the yoke of " the Viennese 
Pharaohs/' 1 or in the land " dominated by the Northern 
Nebuchadnezzar," * where the terror of conscription reigns 
supreme, where u little children, wrenched from the embraces 
of their mothers, are hurled into the ranks of a debased 
soldiery," "doomed to become traitors to their religion and 

The reign of nations — exclaims Lelevel — is drawing nigh. All 
peoples will be merged into one, acknowledging the one God 
Adonai. The rulers have fed the Jews on false promises; the 
nations will grant them liberty. Soon Poland will rise from the 
dust Let then the Jews living on her soil go hand in hand with 
their brother-Poles. The Jews will then be sure to obtain their 
rights. Should they insist on returning to Palestine, the Poles 
will assist them in realizing this consummation. 

Similar utterances could be heard a little later in the mystic 
circle of Tovyanski and Mitzkevitch in Paris,* in which the 
historic destiny of the two martyr nations, the Poles and the 
Jews, and their universal Messianic calling were favorite topics 
of discussion. But alongside of these flights of " imprisoned 
thought " one could frequently catch in the Very same circle 

[* Referring to Galicia.] 

[•Nicholas I.] 

['Andreas Tovyanski (in Polish Towiaiiski, 1799-1878), a 
Christian mystic, founded in Paris a separate community which 
fostered the belief in the restoration of the Polish and the Jewish 
people. The community counted among its members several Jews. 
The famous Polish poet Adam Mitzkevich (in Polish Mickiewica, 
1798-1855) joined Tovyanski in his endeavors, and on one occasion 
even appeared in a Paris synagogue on the Ninth of Ab to make 
an appeal to the Jews.] 


the sounds of the old anti-Semitic slogans. The Parisian 
organ of the Polish refugees, Nowa Polska, " New Poland," 
occasionally indulged in anti-Semitic sallies, calling forth a 
passionate rebuttal from Hernish, 1 an exiled journalist, who 
reminded his fellow-journalists that it was mean to hunt down 
people who were the " slaves of slaves." Two other Polish- 
Jewish revolutionaries, Lubliner and Hollaenderski, shared all 
the miseries of the refugees and, while in exile, indulged in 
reflections concerning the destiny of their brethren at home.* 
In pacified Poland, which, deprived of her former autono- 
mous constitution, was now ruled by the iron hand of the 
Bussian viceroy, Paskevich, the Jews at first experienced 
no palpable changes. Their civil status was regulated, as 
heretofore, by the former Polish legislation, not by that of the 
Empire. It was only in 1843 that the Polish Jews were in 
one respect equalized with their Bussian brethren. Instead 
of the old recruiting tax, they were now forced to discharge 
military service in person. However, the imperial ukase ex- 
tending the operation of the Conscription Statute of 1827 to 
the Jews of the Kingdom^ contained several alleviations. 
Above all, its most cruel provision, the conscription of juveniles 
or cantonists, was set aside. The age of conscription was fixed 
at twenty to twenty-five, while boys between the age of twelve 
and eighteen were to be drafted only when the parents them- 
selves wished to offer them as substitutes for their elder sons 
who were of military age. Nevertheless, to the Polish Jews, 
who had never known of conscription, military service lasting 
a quarter of a century, to be discharged in a strange Bussian 
environment, seemed a terrible sacrifice. The "Congrega- 

[* See above, p. 105.1 

"Lubliner published Des Juifs en Pologne, Brussels, * 1839; 
HollaencLerskl wrote Let I$ra6lites en Potogne, Paris, 1846. 



tional Board " of Warsaw, haying learned of the ukase, sent 
a deputation to St. Petersburg with a petition to grant the 
Jews of the Kingdom equal rights with the Christians, refer- 
ring to the law of 1817 which distinctly stated that the Jews 
were to be released from personal military service so long as 
they were denied equal civil rights. The petition of course 
proved of no avail; the very term " equal rights " was still 
missing in the Bussian vocabulary. 

Only in point of disabilities were the Jews of Poland gradu- 
ally placed on an equal footing with their Bussian brethren. 
In 1845 the Bussian law imposing a tax on the traditional Jew- 
ish attire x was extended in its operation to the Polish Jews, 
descending with the force of a real calamity upon the hasidic 
masses of Poland. Fortunately for the Jews of Poland, the 
other experiments, in which St. Petersburg was revelling 
during that period, left them unscathed. The crises connected 
with the problems of Jewish autonomy and the Jewish school, 
which threatened to disrupt Bussian Jewry in the forties, had 
been passed by the Jews of Poland some twenty years earlier. 
Moreover, the Polish Jews had the advantage over their 
Russian brethren in that the abrogated Kahal had after all 
been replaced by another communal organization, however 
curtailed it was, and that the secular school was not forced 
upon them in the same brutal manner in which the Bussian 
Crown schools had been imposed upon the Jews of the Empire. 
Taken as a whole, the lot of the Polish Jews, sad though it 
was, might yet be pronounced enviable when compared with 
the condition of their brethren in the Pale of Settlement, where 
the rightlessness of the Jews during that period bordered fre- 
quently on martyrdom. 

f*A law to that effect had been passed on February 1, 1843. It 
was preparatory to the entire prohibition of Jewish dress. See 
.below, p. 143 et seq.] 



1. The Uncompromising Attitude of Rabbinism / 

The Russian Government had left nothing undone to shatter 
the old Jewish mode of life. Despotic Tzardom, whose ignor- 
ance of Jewish life was only equalled by its hostility to it, 
lifted its hand to strike not merely at the obsolete forms but 
also at the sound historic foundations of Judaism. The sys- 
tem of conscription which annually wrenched thousands of 
youths and lads from the bosom of their families, the bar- 
racks which served as mission houses, the method of stimu- 
lating and even forcing the conversion of recruits, the estab- 
lishment of Crown schools for the same covert purpose, the 
abolition of communal autonomy, civil disfranchisement, per- 
secution and oppression, all were set in motion against the 
citadel of Judaism. And the ancient citadel, which had held 
out for thousands of years, stood firm again, while the de- 
fenders within her walls, in their endeavor to ward off the 
enemies' blows, had not only succeeded in covering up the 
breaches, but also in barring the entrance of fresh air from 
without. If it be true that, in pursuing its system of tutelage 
$nd oppression, the Russian Government was genuinely actu- 
ated by the desire to graft the modicum of European culture, 
to which the Russia of Nicholas I. could lay claim, upon the 
Jews, it certainly achieved the reverse of what it aimed at. 
The hand which dealt out blows could not disseminate enlight- 
enment; the hammer which was lifted to shatter Jewish sepa- 


ratism had only the effect of hardening it. The persecuted 
Jews clutched eagerly at their old mode of life, the target of 
their enemies' attacks; they clung not only to its permanent 
foundations but also to its obsolete superstructure. The des- 
potism of extermination from without was counterbalanced 
by a despotism of conservation from within, by that rigid dis- 
cipline of conduct to which the masses submitted without a 
murmur, though its yoke must have weighed heavily upon the 
few, the stray harbingers of a new order of things. 

The Government had managed to disrupt the Jewish com- 
munal organization and rob the Kahal of all its authority 
by degrading it to a kind of posse for the capture of recruits 
and extortion of taxes. But while the Jewish masses hated 
the Kahal elders, they retained their faith in their spiritual 
leaders, the rabbis and Tzaddiks.* Heeding the command of 
these leaders, they closed their ranks, and offered stubborn 
resistance to the dangerous cultural influences threatening 
them from without. Life was dominated by rigidly conser- 
vative principles. The old scheme of family life, with all its 
patriarchal survivals, remained in force. In spite of the 
law, embodied in the Statute of 1835, which fixed the minimum 
age of the bridegroom at eighteen (and that of the bride at six- 
teen), the practice of early marriages continued as thereto- 
fore. Parents arranged marriages between children of thir- 
teen and fifteen. Boys of school age often became husbands 
and fathers, and continued to attend heder or yeshibah after 
their marriage, weighed down by the triple tutelage of father, 
father-in-law, and teacher. The growing generation knew 
not the sweetness of being young. Their youth withered under 
the weight of family chains, the pressure of want or material 

£* See on the latter term, toL I, p. 227.] 


dependence. The spirit of protest, the striving for rejuvena- 
tion, which asserted itself in some youthful souls, was crushed 
in the vise of a time-honored discipline, the product of long 
ages. The slightest deviation from a custom, a rite, or old 
habits of thought met with severe punishment. A short jacket 
or a trimmed beard was looked upon as a token of dangerous 
free-thinking. The reading of books written in foreign langu- 
ages, or even written in Hebrew, when treating of secular 
subjects, brought upon the culprit untold hardships. The 
scholastic education resulted in producing men entirely unfit 
for the battle of life, so that in many families energetic women 
took charge of the business and became the wage earners, 1 
while their husbands were losing themselves in the mazes of 
speculation, somewhere in the recesses of the rabbinic Bet 
ha-Midrash or the hasidic Klaus. 

In Lithuania the whole mental energy of the Jewish youth 
was absorbed by Talmudism. The synagogue served as a 
u house of study " outside the hours fixed for prayers. There 
the local rabbi or a private scholar gave lectures on the Talmud 
which were listened to by hosts of yeshibah bahurs.* The 
great yeshibahs of Volozhin, Mir/ and other towns sent forth 
thousands of rabbis and Talmudists. Mentality, erudition, 
dialectic subtlety were valued here above all else. Yet, as 
soon as the mind, whetted by talmudic dialectics, would point 
its edge against the existing order of things, or turn in the 
direction of living knowledge, of " extraneous sciences," 4 it 

I 1 This type of Jewish woman, current in Russia until recent 
times, was called Eshet Hayil, " a woman of valour/' with allusion 
to Prov. 31. 10.] 

[* On the bahur or Talmud student see vol. I, p. 116 et seq.] 

[• On the yeshibah in Volozhin, in the government of Vilna, see 
vol. I, p. 380 et seq. Mir is a townlet in the government of Minsk.] 

['An old Hebrew expression for secular learning.] 



was checked by threats of excommunication and persecution. 
Many were the victims of this petrified milieu, whose protests 
against the old order of things and whose strivings for a newer 
life were nipped in the bud. 

Instructive in this respect is the fate of one of the most 
remarkable Talmudists of his time, Babbi Menashe Ilyer. 
Ilyer spent most of his life in the townlets of Smorgoni and 
Ilya (whence his surname), in the government of Vilna, and 
died of the cholera in 1831. While keeping strictly within 
the bounds of rabbinical orthodoxy, whose adepts respected 
him for his enormous erudition and strict piety, Menashe 
assiduously endeavored to widen their range of thought and 
render them more amenable to moderate freedom of research 
and a more sober outlook on life. But his path was strewn 
with thorns. When on one occasion he expounded before his 
pupils the conclusion, which he had reached after a profound 
scientific investigation, that the text of the Mishnah had in 
many cases been wrongly interpreted by the Gemara, 1 he was 
taken to task by a conference of Lithuanian rabbis and barely 
escaped excommunication. 

Having conceived a liking for mathematics, astronomy, and 
philosophy, Menashe decided to go to Berlin to devote him- 
self to these studies, but on his way to the German capital, 
while temporarily sojourning in Koenigsberg, he was halted 
by his countrymen, who visited Prussia on business, and was 
cowed by all kinds of threats into returning home. By per- 
sistent private study, this native of a Russian out-of-the-way 
townlet managed to acquire a fair amount of general culture, 

[*The Mishnah is a code of laws edited about 200 C E. by 
Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi. The Gemara consists largely of the com- 
ments of the talmudic authorities, who lived after that data, on the 
text of this code.} 


which, with all its limitations, yielded a rich literary harvest. 
In 1807 he made his debut with the treatise Pesher Dabar 
("The Solution of the Problem "),* in which he gave vent 
to his grief over the fact that the spiritual leaders of the Jewish 
people kept aloof from concrete reality and living knowl- 
edge. While the book was passing through the press in Vilna, 
Lithuanian fanatics threatened the author with severe re- 
prisals. Their threats failed to intimidate him. When the 
book appeared, many rabbis threw it into the flames, and made 
every possible effort to arrest its circulation, with the result 
that the voice of the " heretic " was stifled. 

Ten years later, while residing temporarily in Volhynia, 
the hot-bed of hasidism, Menashe began to print his religio- 
philosophic treatise Alfe Menasskeh ("The Teachings of 
Manasseh").* But the first proof-sheets sufficed to impress 
the printer with the " heretical " character of the book, and 
he threw them together with the whole manuscript into the 
fire. The hapless author managed with difficulty to restore 
the text of his " executed " work, and published it at Vilna 
in 1822. Here the rabbinical censorship pounced upon him. 
The book had not yet left the press, when the rabbi of Vilna, 
Said Katzenellenbogen, learned that in one passage the writer 
deduced from a verse in Deuteronomy (17. 9) the right of 
the " judges " or spiritual leaders of each generation to modify 
many religious laws and customs in accordance with the re- 
quirements of the time. The rabbi gave our author fair 
warning that, unless this heretical argument was withdrawn, 
he would have the book burned publicly in the synagogue 

E* Literally, " The Interpretation of a Thins" from BccL 8. L] 
[* With a clever allusion to the Hebrew text of Deut 83. 17.] 


yard. Menashe was forced to submit, and, contrary to his 
conviction, weakened his heterodox argument by a number of 

These persecutions, however, did not smother the fire of 
protest in the breast of the excommunicated rural philoso- 
pher. In the last years of his life he published two pamphlets/ 
in which he severely lashed the shortcomings of Jewish life, 
the early marriages, the one-sided school training, the repug- 
nance to living knowledge and physical labor. However, the 
champions of orthodoxy took good care to prevent these books 
from reaching the masses. Exhausted by his fruitless struggle, 
Menashe died, unappreciated and almost unnoticed by his 

2. The Stagnation- of Hasidish 

A critical attitude toward the existing order of things could 
on occasions assert itself in the environment of Babbinism, 
where the mind, though forced into the mould of scholasticism, 
was yet working at high speed. But such * heretical " think- 
ing was utterly inconceivable in the dominant circles of Hasid- 
ism, where the intellect was rocked to sleep by mystical lulla- 
bies and fascinating stories of the miraculous exploits of the 
Tzaddiks. The era of political and civil disfranchisement was 
a time of luxuriant growth for Hasidism, not in its creative, 
but rather in its stationary, not to say stagnant, phase. 

The old struggle between Hasidism and Babbinism had 

j long been fought out, and the Tzaddiks rested on their laurels 

as teachers and miracle-workers. The Tzaddik dynasties were 

1 One of these, entitled Bamme de-Hayye ( M Elixir of Life ") , was 
written in Yiddish, being designed by the author for the lower 



now firmly entrenched. In White Russia the sceptre lay in the 
hands of the Shneorsohn dynasty, the successors of the " Old 
Rabbi,* Shneor Zalman, the progenitor of the Northern 
Haaidim. 1 The son of the " Old Rabbi," Baer, nicknamed " the 
Middle Rabbi " (1813-1828), and the latter^ son-in-law Men- 
del Lubavicher* (1828-1866) succeeded one another on the 
hasidic " throne " during this period, with a change in their 
place of residence. Under Rabbi Zalman the townlets of 
Lozno and Ladi served as "capitals"; under his successors, 
they were Ladi and Lubavichi. The three localities are all 
situated on the border-line of the governments of Vitebsk and 
Moghilev, in which the Hasidim of the Hdbad persuasion 8 
formed either a majority, as was the case in the former 
government, or a substantial minority, as was the case in the 

Rabbi Baer, the son and successor of the " Old Rabbi," did 
not inherit the creative genius of his father. He published 
many books, made up mostly of his Sabbath discourses, but 
they lack originality. His method is that of the talmudic 
pilpvl,* transplanted upon the soil of Cabala and Hasidism, 
or it consists in expatiating upon the ideas contained in the 
Tatfyo' The last years of Rabbi Baer were darkened by the 
White Russian catastrophes, the expulsion from the villages 
in 1823, and the ominous turn in the ritual murder trial of 
Velizh. On his death-bed he spoke to those around him about 
the burning topic of the day, the conscription ukase of 1827. 

[* See vol. I, p. 372.] 

[■ From the townlet Lubavichi See later in the text] 
['Compare vol. I, p. 234, n. 2.] 
[ 4 I. c, Dialectics. Comp. vol. I, p. 122.] 
[' The title of the philosophic treatise of Rabbi Shneor Zalman. 
See vol. I, p. 372, n. 1.] 


His successor Eabbi Mendel Lubavicher preyed an energetic 
organizer of the hasidic masses. He was highly esteemed not 
only as a learned Talmudist — he wrote rabbinical noveUae 
and responsa — and as a preacher of Hasidism, but also as a 
man of great practical wisdom, whose adrice was sought by 
thousands of people in family matters no less than in com- 
munal and commercial affairs. This did not prevent him 
from being a decided opponent of the new enlightenment. 
In the course of Lilienthal's educational propaganda in 1843, 
Sabbi Mendel was summoned by the Government to participate 
in the deliberations of the Rabbinical Committee at St. Peters- 
burg. There he found himself in a tragic situation. He was 
compelled to give his sanction to the Crown schools, although 
he firmly believed that they were subversive of Judaism, not 
only because they were originated by Russian officials, but 
also because they were intended to impart secular knowledge. 
The hasidic legend narrates that the Tzaddik pleaded before the 
Committee passionately, and often with tears in his eyes, 
not only to retain in the new schools the traditional methods 
of Bible and Talmud instruction, but also to make room in 
their curriculum for the teaching of the Cabala. Nevertheless, 
Rabbi Mendel was compelled to endorse against his will the 
" godless " plan of a school reform, and a little later to prefix 
his approbation to a Russian edition of Mendelssohn's German 
Bible translation. His attitude toward contemporary peda- 
gogic methods may be gauged from the epistle addressed by 
him in 1848 to Leon Mandelstamm, Lilienthal's successor in 
the task of organizing the Jewish Crown schools. In this 
epistle Rabbi Mendel categorically rejects all innovations in 
the training of the young. In reply to a question concerning 


the edition of an abbreviated Bible text for children, he trench- 
antly quotes the famous medieval aphorism : 

The Pentateuch was written by Moses at the dictation of God. 
Hence every word in it is sacred. There is no difference whatso- 
ever between the verse "And Timna was the concubine" (Gen. 
36. 12) and "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one" 
(Deut 6.4).* 

Withal, the leaders of the Northern Hasidim were, com- 
paratively speaking, " men of the world," and were ready here 
and there to make concessions to the demands of the age. 
Quite different were the Tzaddiks of the South-west. They 
were horrified by the mere thought of such concessions. They 
were surrounded by immense throngs of Hasidim, unenlight- 
ened, ecstatic, worshipping saints during their lifetime. 

The most honored among these hasidic dynasties was that of 
Chernobyl." It was founded in the Ukraina toward the end 
of the eighteenth century by an itinerant preacher, or Maggid, 
called Nahum.* His son Mordecai, known under the endear- 
ing name "Babbi Motele" (died in 1837), attracted to 
Chernobyl enormous numbers of pilgrims who brought with 
them ransom money, or pidyons? Mordecai's " Empire " fell 
asunder after his death. His eight sons divided among them- 
selves the whole territory of the Kiev and Volhynia province. 
Aside from the original center in Chernobyl, seats of Tzad- 

[* See Maimonides' exposition of the dogma of the divine origin 
of the Torah in his Mishnah Commentary, Sanhedrin, chapter X.] 

[•A townlet in the government of Kiev.] 

[• See vol. I, p. 882.] 

I* The term is used in the Bible to denote a sum of money which 
" redeems " or " ransoms " a man from death, as in the case of a 
person guilty of manslaughter (Ex. 22. 80) or that of the first- 
born son (Ex. 13. 18; 84. 20). The Hasidim designate by this 
term the contributions made to the Tzaddik, in the belief that 
such contributions have the power of averting from the con- 
tributor impending death or misfortune.] 


diks were established in the townlets of Korostyshev, Cher- 
kassy, Makarov, Turisk, Talno, Skvir and Bakhmistrovka. 
This resulted in a disgraceful rivalry among the brothers, 
and still more so among their hasidic adherents. Every Hasid 
was convinced that reverence was due only to his own 
"Bebbe," 1 cmd he brushed aside the claims of the other 
Tzaddiks. Whenever the adherents of the various Tzaddiks 
met, they invariably engaged in passionate " party " quarrels, 
which on occasions, especially after the customary hasidic 
drinking bouts, ended in physical violence. 

The whole Chernobyl dynasty found a dangerous rival in 
the person of the Tzaddik Israel Buzhiner (of Buzhin), the 
great-grandson of Babbi Baer, the apostle of Hasidism, known 
as the " Mezhiricher Maggid." ' Babbi Israel settled in Buzhin, 
a townlet in the government of Kiev, about 1815, and rapidly 
gained fame as a saint and miracle-worker. His magnificent 
" court " at Buzhin was always crowded with throngs of Hasi- 
dim. Their onrush was checked by special " gentlemen in wait- 
ing," the so-called gdbba'vm, who were very fastidious in ad- 
mitting the people into the presence of the Tzaddik — dependent 
upon the size of the proffered gifts. Israel drove out in a 
gorgeous carriage, surrounded by a guard of honor. The 
gubernatorial administration of Kiev, presided over by the 
ferocious Governor-General Bibikov, received intimations to 
the effect "that the Tzaddik of Buzhin wielded almost the 
power of a Tzar " among his adherents, who did not stir with- 

[* Popular pronunciation of the word "rabbi." A hasidic 
Tzaddik is designated as " Rebbe," in distinction from the rabbi 
proper, or the Rav (in Russia generally pronounced Rov), who dis- 
charges the rabbinical functions within the community.] 

[ a On Rabbi Baer see voL I, p. 229 et ueq.1 


out his advice. The police began to watch the Tzaddik, and 
at length found an occasion for a " f rame-up." 

When, in 1838, the Kahal of TTshitza, in the government 
of Podolia, was implicated in the murder of an informer, 1 
Sabbi Israel of Buzhin was arrested on the charge of abetting 
the murder. The hasidic "Tzar" languished in prison for 
twenty-two months. He was finally set free and placed under 
police surveillance. But he soon escaped to Austria, and 
settled in 1841 in the Bukovina, in the townlet of Sadagora, 
near Chernovitz, where he established his new " court." Many 
Hasidim in Russia now made their pilgrimage abroad to their 
beloved Tzaddik; in addition, new partisans were won among 
the hasidic masses of Galicia and the Bukovina. Babbi Israel 
died in 1850, but the "Sadagora dynasty" branched out 
rapidly, and preyed a serious handicap to modern progress 
during the stormy epoch of emancipation which followed in 
Austria soon afterwards. 

Another hot-bed of the Tzaddik cult was Podolia, the cradle 
of Hasidism. In the old residence of Besht/ in Medzhibozh, 
the sceptre was held by Babbi Joshua Heshel Apter, who suc- 
ceeded Beshtfs grandson, Babbi Borukh of Tulchyn.* For a 
number of years, between 1810 and 1830, the aged Joshua 
Heshel was revered as the nestor of Tzaddikism, the haughty 
Israel of Buzhin being the only one who refused to acknowl- 
edge his supremacy. HeshePs successor was Babbi Moyshe 
Savranski, who established a regular hasidic " court, " after 
the pattern of Chernobyl and Buzhin. 

The only Tzaddik to whom it was not given to be the 
founder of a dynasty was the somewhat eccentric Babbi Nah- 

1 See above, p. 84 et %eq. 
[' See vol. I, p. 222 et $eq.] 
[* See vol. I, p. 384.] 


man of Bratzlav, 1 a great-grandson of Besht. After his death, 
the Bratzlav Hasidim, who followed the lead of his disciple 
Eabbi Nathan, suffered cruel persecutions at the hands of the 
other hasidic factions. The " Bratzlavers " adopted the custom 
of visiting once a year, during the High Holidays, the grave 
of their founder in the city of TJman, in the government of 
Kiev, and subsequently erected a house of prayer near his 
tomb. During these pilgrimages they were often the target 
of the local Haaidim who reviled and often maltreated them. 
The " Bratzlavers " were the Cinderella among the Hasidim, 
lacking the powerful patronage of a living Tzaddik. Their 
heavenly patron, Rabbi Nahman, could not hold his own 
against his living rivals, the earthly Tzaddiks — all too earthly 
perhaps, in spite of their saintliness. 

The Tzaddik cult was equally diffused in the Kingdom of 
Poland. The place of Eabbi Israel of Kozhenitz and Eabbi 
Jacob-Isaac of Lublin, who together marshalled the hasidic 
forces during the time of the Yarsovian duchy, was taken by 
founders and representatives of new Tzaddik dynasties. The 
most popular among these were the dynasty of Kotzk," estab- 
lished by Eabbi Mendel Kotzker (1827-1859), and that of 
Goora Kalvaria," or Qher, 4 founded by Eabbi Isaac Meier 
Alter" (about 1830-1866). The former reigned supreme nw 
the provinces, the latter in the capital of Poland, in Warsaw, - 
which down to this day has remained loyal to the Gher dynasty. 

[* A town In Podolia. See vol. I, p. 382 ei $eq.] 
[•A town not far from Warsaw. Camp. vol. I, p. 80S, n. L] 
[•In Polish, O&ra Kaltoarya, a town on the left bank of the 
Vistula, not far from Warsaw.] 
[* This form of the name is used by the Jews.] 
[' Called popularly in Poland Reb Itche Meier, a name still fre- 
quently found among the Jews of Warsaw, who to a large extent 
are adherents of the " Qher dynasty."] 


The Polish "Rebbes" 1 resembled by the character of their 
activity the type of the Northern, or Habad, Tzaddiks rather 
than those of the Ukraina. They did not keep luxurious 
"courts," did not hanker so greedily after donations, and 
laid greater emphasis on talmudic scholarship. 

Hasidism produced not only leaders but also martyrs, vic- 
tims of the Russian police regime. About the time when the 
Tzaddik of Ruzhin fell under suspicion, the Russian Govern- 
ment began to watch the Jewish printing-press in the Volhy- 
nian townlet of Slavuta. The owners of the press were two 
brothers, Samuel-Abba and Phinehas Shapiro, grandsons of 
Beshtfs companion, Rabbi Phinehas of Koretz. The two 
brothers were denounced to the authorities as persons issuing 
dangerous mystical books from their press, without the per- 
mission of the censor. This denunciation was linked up with 
a criminal case, the discovery in the house of prayer, which 
was attached to the printing-press, of the body of one of the 
compositors who, it was alleged, had intended to lay bare the 
activities of the u criminal " press before the Government. 
After a protracted imprisonment of the two Slavuta printers 
in Kiev, their case was submitted to Nicholas I. who sentenced 
them to Spiessruten ' and deportation to Siberia. During the 
procedure of running the gauntlet, while passing through the 
lines of whipping soldiers, one of the brothers had his cap 
knocked off his head. Unconcerned by the hail of lashes from 
which he was bleeding, he stopped to pick up his cap so as to 
avoid going bare-headed/ and then resumed his march between 

I 1 See p. 120, n. L] 

[• See above, p. 85, n. L] 

f* According to an ancient Jewish notion, which Is current 
throughout the Orient, baring the head Is a sign of frivolity and 
disrespect towards God.] 


the two rows of executioners. The unfortunate brothers were 
released from their Siberian exile during the reign of 
Alexander II. 

Hasidic life exhibited no doubt many examples of lofty 
idealism and moral purify. But hand in hand with it went 
an impenetrable spiritual gloom, boundless credulity, a passion 
for deifying men of a mediocre and even inferior type, and 
the unwholesome hypnotizing influence of the Tzaddiks. 
Spiritual self -intoxication was accompanied by physical. The 
hasidic rank and file, particularly in the South-west, began to 
develop an ugly passion for alcohol. Originally tolerated 
as a means of producing cheerfulness and religious ecstasy, 
drinking gradually became the standing feature of every 
hasidic gathering. It was in vogue at the court of the 
Tzaddik during the rush of pilgrims; it was indulged in after 
prayers in the hasidic " Shtiblach," * or houses of prayer, and 
was accompanied by dancing and by the ecstatic narration of 
the miraculous exploits of the "Bebbe."' Many TTaaidim 
lost themselves completely in this idle revelry and neglected 
their business affairs and their starving families, looking 
forward in their blind fatalism to the blessings which were 
to be showered upon them through the intercession of the 

It would be manifestly unjust to view the hasidic indulgence 
in alcohol in the same light as the senseless drunkenness of 
the Russian peasant, transforming man into a beast. The 
Hasid drank, and in moderate doses at that, " for the soul," 

[ x The word, which is a diminutive of German Stube, " room," 
denotes, like the word Klaus, the room, or set of rooms, in which 
the Hasidim assemble for prayer, study, and recreation.] 

[' See above, p. 120, n. L] 


* to banish the grief which blunteth the heart," to arouse relig- 
ious exultation and enliven his social intercourse with his f el- 
low-J>eliever8. Yet the consequences were equally sad. For 
the habit resulted in drowsiness of thought, idleness and eco- 
nomic ruin, insensibility to the outside world and to the 
social movements of the age, as well as in stolid opposition to 
cultural progress in general It must be borne in mind that 
during the era of external oppression and military inquisition 
the reactionary force of Hasidism acted as the only antidote 
against the reactionary force from the outside. Hasidism and 
Tzaddikism were, so to speak, a sleeping draught which dulled 
the pain of the blows dealt out to the unfortunate Jewish popu- 
lace by the Eussian Government But in the long run the pop- 
ular organism was injuriously affected by this mystic opium. 
The poison rendered its consumers insensible to every progres- 
sive movement, and planted them firmly at the extreme pole of 
obscurantism, at a time when the Russian ghetto resounded 
with the first appeals calling its inmates toward the light, 
toward the regeneration and the uplift of inner Jewish life. 

3. The Russian Mendelssohn (Isaac Baer Lbvinsohn) 

It was in the hot-bed of the most fanatical species of 
Hasidism that the first blossoms of Haskal&h x timidly raised 
their heads. Isaac Baer Levinsohn, from Kremenetz in Podolia 
(1788-1860), had associated in his younger days with the 
champions of enlightenment in adjacent Galicia, such as 

[* A Hebrew term meaning " enlightenment" It is a translation 
of the German AvfkUierung, and was first applied to the endeavors 
made in the time of Moses Mendelssohn (died 1786) to introduce 
European culture among the Jews of the ghetto.] 


Joseph Perl/ Nahman Krochmal/ and their followers. When 
he came back to his native land, it was with the firm resolve 
to devote his energies to the task of civilizing the secluded 
masses of Eussian Jewry. In lonesome quietude, carefully 
guarding his designs from the outside world which was exclu- 
sively hasidic, he worked at his book Teudah be-Israd (" In- 
struction in Israel ") , which after many difficulties he managed 
to publish in Vilna in 1828. In this book our author en- 
deavored, without trespassing the boundaries of orthodox 
religious tradition, to demonstrate the following elementary 
truths by citing examples from Jewish history and sayings of 
great Jewish authorities : 

1. The Jew is obliged to study the Bible as well as Hebrew 
grammar and to interpret the biblical text in accordance with the 
plain grammatical sense. 

2. The Jewish religion does not condemn the knowledge of 
foreign languages and literatures, especially of the language of 
the country, such knowledge being required both in the personal 
interest of the individual Jew and in the common interest of the 
Jewish people. 

3. The study of secular sciences is not attended by any danger 
for Judaism, men of the type of Maimonides having remained 
loyal Jews, in spite of their extensive general culture. 

4. It is necessary from the economic point of view to strengthen 
productive labor, such as handicrafts and agriculture, at the 
expense of commerce and brokerage, also to discourage early 
marriages between persons who are unprovided for and have no 
definite occupation. 

[ x Died 1839. He became famous through his anti-hasldic parody 
MegdUe Temirin, " Revealing Hidden Things," written in the form 
of letters in imitation of the hasidic style. Perl's book has been 
frequently compared with the medieval EpUtolae obscurorum, 
vivorum, which are ascribed to Ulrich von Hutten (d. 1523). See 
P. 127.] 

[* Died 1840. Famous as the author of More Nebuke hoZeman, 
"Guide of the Perplexed of (Our) Time," a profound treatise, 
dealing with Jewish theological and historical problems.] 


These commonplaces sounded to that generation like epoch- 
making revelations. They were condemned as rank heresies 
by the all-powerful obscurantists and hailed as a gospel of the 
approaching renaissance by that handful of progressives who 
dreamt of a new Jewish life and, cowed by the fear of persecu- 
tion, hid these thoughts deep down in their breasts. 

A similar fear compelled Levinsohn to exercise the utmost 
reserve and caution in criticizing the existing order of things. 
The same consideration forced him to shield himself behind 
a pseudonym in publishing his anti-hasidic satire Dibre 
Tzaddikim, "The Words of the Tzaddiks," 1 (Vienna, 1830), 
a rather feeble imitation of Megaile Temirin, the Hebrew 
counterpart of the "Epistles of Obscure Men," by Joseph 
Perl." His principal work, entitled Bet Yehudah, "The 
House of Judah," a semi-philosophic, semi-publicistic review 
of the history of Judaism, remained for a long time in manu- 
script. Levingohn was unable to publish it for the reason that 
even the printing-press of Vilna, the only one to issue publi- 
cations of a non-religious character, was afraid of bringing 
out a book which had failed to receive the approbation of the 
local rabbis. Several years later, in 1839, the volume finally 
came out, clothed in the form of a reply to inquiries addressed 
to the author by a high Russian official. 

From the point of view of Jewish learning, Bet Yehudah 
can claim but scanty merits. It lacks that depth of philosophic- 
historic insight which distinguishes so brilliantly the " Guide 
of the Perplexed of Our Time" of the Oalician thinker 
Krochmal.' The writer's principal task is to prove from 

[* Literally, "The Words of the Righteous/' with reference to 

23. 8.] 
[ a See the preceding page, n. 1.] 
[• See the preceding page, n. 2.] 


history his rather trite doctrine that Judaism had at no time 
shunned secular culture and philosophy. 

For the rest, the author fights shy of the difficult problems 
of religious philosophy, and is always on the lookout for 
compromises. Even with reference to the Cabala, with which 
Levinsohn has but little sympathy, he says timidly : " It is 
not for us to judge these lofty matters" (Chapter 135). 
Fear of the orthodox environment compels him to observe 
almost complete silence with reference to Hasidism, although 
in his private correspondence and in his anonymous writings 
he denounces it severely. Levinsohn concludes his historic re- 
view of Judaism with a eulogy upon the Russian Government 
for its kindness toward the Jews (Ch. 151) and with the 
following plan of reform suggested to it for execution (Ch. 

To open elementary schools for the teaching of Hebrew and the 
tenets of the Jewish religion as well as of Russian and arithmetic, 
and to establish institutions of higher rabbinical learning in the 
larger cities; to institute the office of Chief Rabbi, with a supreme 
council under him, which should be in charge of Jewish spiritual 
and communal affairs in Russia; to aUot to a third of the Russian- 
Jewish population parcels of land for agricultural purposes; to 
prohibit luxury in dress and furniture in which even the im- 
pecunious classes are prone to indulge. 

Levinsohn was not satisfied to propagate his ideas by purely 
literary means. He anticipated meagre results from a literary 
propaganda among the broad Jewish masses, in which the mere 
reading of such " licentious " books was considered a criminal 
offence. He had greater faith in his ability to carry out the 
regeneration of Jewish life with the powerful help of the Gov- 
ernment. As a matter of fact, Levinsohn had long before this 
begun to knock at the doors of the Bussian Government offices. 


Far back in 1823 he had presented to the heir-apparent Con- 
gtantine Pavlovich * a memorandum concerning Jewish sects 
and a project looking to the establishment of a system of Jewish 
schools and seminaries. Moreover, before publishing his first 
work Teudah, he had submitted the manuscript to Shishkov, 
the reactionary Minister of Public Instruction, applying for a 
Government subsidy towards the publication of a work which 
demonstrates the usefulness of enlightenment and agriculture, 
" instills love for the Tzar as well as for the people with which 
we share our life, and recounts the innumerable favors which 
they have bestowed upon us." 

These words were penned on December 2, 1827, three months 
after the promulgation of the baneful conscription ukase 
ordering the compulsory enlistment of under-aged cantonists ! 
The request was complied with. A year later the humble 
Volhynian litterateur received by imperial command an 
• award " of 1000 rubles ($500) " for a work having for its 
object the moral transformation of the Jews." This " award " 
came when the volume had already appeared in print, in the 
terrible year 1828 which was marked by the first conscription 
of Jewish recruits, the ominous turn in the ritual murder 
trial of Velizh and the constant tightening of the knot of 

But these events failed to cure the political naivete of 
Levinsohn. In 1831 he laid before Lieven, the new Minister 
of Public Instruction, a memorandum advocating the necessity 
of modifications in Jewish religious life. Again in 1833 he 
came forward with the dangerous proposal to close all Jewish 

I* Being the eldest brother of Alexander I., Constantino was 
the legitimate heir to the Russian throne. He resigned in favor 
of his younger brother Nicholas. See above, p. 13, n. 2.] 


printing-presses, except those situated in towns in which there 
was a censorship. The project was accompanied by a " list of 
ancient and modern Hebrew books, indicating those that may 
be considered useful and those that are harmful " — the hasidic 
works were declared to belong to the latter category. Levin- 
sohn's project was partly instrumental in prompting the 
grievous law of 1836, which raised a cry of despair in the Pale 
of Settlement, ordering a revision of the entire Hebrew- 
literature by Russian censors.* 

Levinsohn's action would have been ignoble had it not been 
naive. The recluse of Kremenetz, passionately devoted to his 
people but wanting in political foresight, was calling Russian 
officialdom to aid in his fight against the bigotry of the Jewish 
masses, in the childish conviction that the Russian authori- 
ties had the welfare of the Jews truly at heart, and that 
compulsory measures would do away with the hostility of 
the Jewish populace toward enlightenment. He failed to 
perceive, as did also some of his like-minded contemporaries, 
that the culture which the Russian Government of his time 
was trying to foist upon the Jews was only apt to accentuate 
their distrust, that, so long as they were the target of persecu- 
tion, the Jews could not possibly accept the gift of enlighten- 
ment from the hands of those who lured them to the baptismal 
font, pushed their children on the path of religious treason, and 
were ruthless in breaking and disfiguring their whole mode of 

In his literary works Levinsohn was fond of emphasizing 
his relations with high Government officials. This probably 
saved him from a great deal of unpleasantness on the part of 
the fanatic Hasidim, but it also had the effect of increasing 

1 See above, p. 42 et seq. 


his unpopularity among the orthodox. The only merit the 
latter were willing to concede to Levinsohn was that of an 
apologist who defended Judaism against the attacks of non- 
Jews. During the epidemic of ritual murder trials, the 
rabbis of Lithuania and Volhynia addressed a request to 
Levinsohn to write a book against this horrid libel. At their 
suggestion he published his work Efes Damim, " No Blood I " 
(Vilna, 1837)/ in the form of a dialogue between a Jewish 
sage and a Greek^Orthodox patriarch in Jerusalem. 

Somewhat later Levinsohn wrote other apologetic treatises, 
defending the Talmud against the attacks contained in the book 
Nettbot 'Olam,* published in 1839 by the London missionary 
M'Caul. Levinsohn's great apologetic work Zerubbdbel, which 
appeared several years after his death, was equally dedicated 
to the defence of the Talmud. It has, moreover, considerable 
scientific merit, being one of the first research works in the 
domain of talmudic theology. A number of other publications 
by Levinsohn deal with Hebrew philology and lexicography. 
All these efforts support Levinsohn's claim to the title of 
Pounder of a modern Jewish Science in Russia, though his 
scholarly achievements cannot be classed with those of his Ger- 
man and Galician fellow-writers, such as Bapoport, Zunz, Jost, 
and Geiger. 

Levinsohn stood entirely aloof from the propaganda of 
bureaucratic enlightenment which was carried on by Lilienthal 
in the name of XJvarov. The Volhynian hermit was completely 
overshadowed by the energetic young German. E*$n when 
Lilienthal, after realizing that a union beteween Jewish cul- 

[* With a clever allusion to the geographic name Ephes-dammim, 
I Sain. 17.1.] 
[' " Old Paths," with reference to Jer. 6. 16.] 


tare and Russian officialdom was altogether unnatural, had 
disappeared from the stage, Levinsohn still persisted in culti- 
vating his relations with the Government. But by that time 
the bureaucrats of St Petersburg had no more use for the 
Jewish friends of enlightenment. Broken in health, chained 
to his bed for half a lifetime, without means of subsistence, 
lonely amidst a hostile orthodox environment, Levinsohn time 
and again addressed to St. Petersburg humiliating appeals for 
monetary assistance, occasionally receiving small pittances, 
which were booked under the heading " Belief in Distress," 
accepted subventions from various Jewish Maecenases, and re- 
mained a pauper till the end of his life. The pioneer of 
modern culture among Bussian Jews, the founder of Neo- 
Hebraic literature, spent his life in the midst of a realm of 
darkness, shunned like an outcast, appreciated by a mere hand- 
ful of sympathizers. It was only after his death that he was 
crowned with laurels, when the intellectuals of Bussian Jewry 
were beginning to press forward in close formation. 

4. The Bisb of Neo-Hkbraic Culture 

The Volhynian soil proved unfavorable for the seeds of 
enlightenment. The Haskalah pioneers were looked upon as 
dangerous enemies in this hot-bed of Tzaddikdsm. They were 
held in disgrace and were often the victims of cruel persecu- 
tions, from which some saved themselves by conversion. A 
more favorable soil for cultural endeavors was found in the 
extreme south of the Pale of Settlement as well as in its 
northern section : Odessa, the youthful capital of New Russia, 
and Vilna, the old capital of Lithuania, both became centers 
of the Haskalah movement. 


As far as Odessa was concerned, the seeds of enlightenment 
had been carried hither from neighboring Oalicia by the Jews 
of Brody, who formed a wealthy merchant colony in that city. 
As early as 1826 Odessa saw the opening of the first Jewish 
school for secular education, which was managed at first by Sit- 
tenf eld and later on by the well-known public worker Bezalel 
Stern. Among the teachers of the new school was Simha Pins- 
ker, who subsequently became the historian of Karaism. This 
school, the only educational establishment of its kind during 
that period, served in Odessa as a center for the " Friends of 
Enlightenment/* Being a new city, unfettered by traditions, 
and at the same time a large sea-port, with a checkered interna- 
tional population, Odessa outran other Jewish centers in the 
process of modernization, though it must be confessed that it 
never went beyond the externalities of civilization. As far as the 
period under discussion is concerned, the Jewish center of 
the South can claim no share in the production of new Jewish 

While yielding to Odessa in point of external civilization, 
Vilna surpassed the capital of the South by her store of 
mental energy. The circle of the Vilna Maskilim, which 
came into being during the fourth decade of the nineteenth 
century, gave rise to the two founders of the Neo-Hebraic 
literary style: the prose writer Mordecai Aaron Ginzburg 
(1796-1846) and the poet Abraham Baer Lebensohn (1794- 

Ginzburg, born in the townlet Salant, in the Zhmud region, 1 
lived for some time in Courland, and finally settled in Vilna. 
He managed to familiarize himself with German literature, and 

[* Zhmud, or Samogitia, is part of the present government of 
Kovno. Compare vol. I, p. 293, n. 1*1 


was so fascinated by it that he started his literary career by 
translating and adapting German works into Hebrew. His 
translation of Campe's " Discovery of America n and Polite' 
Universal History, as well as his own history of the Franco- 
Russian War of 1812, compiled from various sources, were, as 
far as Busssia is concerned, the first specimens of secular 
literature in pure Hebrew, which boldly claimed their place 
side by side with rabbinic and hasidic writings. In that 
juvenile stage of the Hebrew renaissance, when the mere treat- 
ment of language and style was considered 'an achievement, 
even the appearance of such elementary books was hailed as 

The profoundest influence on the formation of the Neo- 
Hebraic style must be ascribed to two other works by the same 
author, Kiriat Sefer* an epistolary manual containing speci- 
mens of personal, commercial, and other forms of correspon- 
dence (Vilna, 1835, and many later editions), and 2>eMr/ 
a miscellaneous collection of essays, consisting for the most 
part of translations and compilations (Vilna, 1844). Oinz- 
burg's premature death in 1846 was mourned by the Vilna 
Maskilim as the loss of a leader in the struggle for the Neo- 
Hebraic renaissance, and they gave expression to these senti- 
ments in verse and prose. Ginzburg's autobiography (Abi- 
'ezer, 1863) and his letters (Debir, Vol. II., 1861) portray 
the milieu in which our author grew up and developed. 

Abraham Baer Lebensohn,* a native of Vilna, awakened the 

I 1 See next note.] 

['Both titles are derived from the rosaace in Josh. 15. 16, 
according to which Debir, a city in the territory of the tribe of 
Judah, was originally called Kiriat Sefer, " Book City."] 

[•He assumed the pen-name "Adam," the initials of Abraham 
Dob (Hebrew equivalent for Baer) Mikhailishker (from the town 
of Mikhailishok, in the government of Vilna, where he resided for 
a number of years). See later, p. 226.] 


dormant Hebrew lyre by the sonorous rhymes of his " Songs 
in the Saered Tongue " (Shire Sefat Kodesh, Vol. I., Leipsic, 
1842). In this volume solemn odes celebrating events of 
all kinds alternate with lyrical poems of a philosophical con- 
tent. The unaccustomed ear of the Jew of that period was 
struck by these powerful sounds of rhymed biblical speech 
which exhibited greater elegance and harmony than the 
Mosaid of Wessely, the Jewish Klopstock. 1 His composi- 
tions, which are marked by thought rather than by feel- 
ing, suited to perfection the taste of the contemporary 
Jewish reader, who was ever on the lookout for " intellectual- 
ity/' even where poetry was concerned. Philosophic and moral- 
izing lyrics are a characteristic feature of Lebensohn's pen. 
The general human sorrow, common to all individuals, stirs 
him more deeply than national grief. His only composition 
of a nationalistic character, "The Wailing of the Daughter 
of Judah," seems strangely out of harmony with the accompany- 
ing odes which celebrate the coronation of Nicholas I. and sim- 
ilar patriotic occasions, although the " Wailing " is shrewdly 
prefaced by a note, evidently meant for the censor, to the 
effect that the poem refers to the Middle Ages. At any rate, 
the principal merit of the u Songs in the Sacred Tongue " 
is not to be sought in their poetry but rather in their style, 
for it was this style which became the basis of Neo-Hebraic 
poetic diction, perfected more and more by the poets of the suc- 
ceeding generations. 

I 1 The author refers to Naphtali Hirz Wessely (d. 1805), an 
associate of Mendelssohn in his cultural endeavors. He wrote 
Shire Tiferet, "Songs of Glory," an epic in five parts dealing 
with the Exodus. The poem was patterned after the epic Der 
Me**ia$ of his famous German contemporary Gottlieb Priedrich 
Klopstock, who, in turn, was influenced by Milton.] 


Ginzburg and Lebensohn were the central pillars of the- 
Vilna Maskilim circle, which also included men of the type 
of Samuel Joseph Fiinn, the historian, Mattathiah Strashun, 
the Talmudist, the censor Tugendhold, the bibliographer Ben- 
jacob, N. Rosenthal, in a word, the " radicals " of that era 
— f or the mere striving for the restoration of biblical Hebrew 
and for elementary secular education was looked upon as bold 
radicalism. The same circle made an attempt to create a 
scientific periodical after the pattern of similar publications 
in Galicia and Germany. In 1841 and 1843 two issues of the 
magazine Pvrhe Tzafon, " Flowers of the North," appeared in 
Vilna, under Fiinn's editorship. The volumes contained scien- 
tific and publicistic articles as well as poems, contributed by 
the feeble literary talents which were then active in the 
Hebrew literary and educational revival in Sussia — all of 
them efforts of not very high merit. But even these poor hot- 
house flowers were fated to be nipped in the Northern chill. 
The ruthless Bussian censorship scented in the unassuming 
magazine of the Vilna Maskilim a criminal attempt to publish 
a Hebrew periodical. Such an undertaking required an official 
license from the central Government in St. Petersburg, and 
the latter was not in the habit of granting licenses for such 

In Vilna, as in Odessa, the coterie of local Maskilim 
formed the mainstay of Lilienthal, the apostle of enlighten- 
ment, in his struggle with the orthodox. In the year 1840, 
prior to LilienthaPs arrival, when the first intimation of 
Uvarov's plans reached the city of Vilna, the local Maskilim 
responded to the call of the Government in a circular letter, 
in which the following four cardinal reforms were emphasized : 

1. The transformation of the Rabbinate through the establish- 
ment of rabbinical seminaries, the appointment of graduates from 


German universities as rabbis, and the formation of consistories 
after the pattern of Western Europe. 

2. The reform of school education through the opening of 
secular schools after the model of Odessa and Riga and the train- 
ing of new teachers from among the Maskilim. 

3. The struggle with the fiends of obscurantism, who stifle every 
endeavor for popular enlightenment. 

4. The improvement of Jewish economic life by Intensifying 
agricultural colonization, the establishment of technical and arts 
and crafts schools, and similar measures. 

Several years later the authors of this circular had reason 
to share LilienthaPs disillusionment over the "benevolent 
intentions " of the Government. This, however, was not 
strong enough to uproot the original sin of the Haskalah: 
its constant readiness to lean for support upon " enlightened 
absolutism." The despotism of the orthodox and the intoler- 
ance of the unenlightened masses forced the handful of Maski- 
lim to fall back upon those who in the eyes of the Jewish 
populace were the source of its sorrow and tears. There was 
a profound tragedy in this incongruity. 

The culture movement in Russia of the second quarter of 
the nineteenth century corresponds in its complexion to the 
early stage of the Mendelssohnian enlightenment in Germany, 
the period of the Me'assefim. 1 But there were also essential 
differences between the two. The beginning of German en- 
lightenment was accompanied by a strong drift toward assim- 
ilation which led to the elimination of the national language 
from literature. In Russia the initial period of Haskalah 
was not marked by any sudden social and cultural upheavals. 

I 1 So named after the Hebrew periodical HoM&assef, " The Col- 
lector," which was founded in Berlin in 1784. Compare vol. I, 
p. 386, n. 3.] 


On the contrary, it laid the foundations for a national literary 
renaissance which in the following period was destined to be- 
come an important social factor. 

5. Thb Jews and the Bttssiah Pboplb 

As for the Russian people, an impenetrable wall continued 
as theretofore to keep it apart from the Jewish population. 
To the inhabitants of the two Russian capitals and of the 
interior of the Empire the Pale of Settlement seemed as dis- 
tant as China, while among the Russians tiring within the 
Pale the sparks of former historic conflagrations, the preju- 
dices of the ages and the unenlightened notions of days gone by 
were still glimmering beneath the ashes. The ignorance of 
some and the vicious prejudices of others could not very well 
manifest themselves in periodical literature, for the simple rea- 
son that in pre-ref ormatory Russia, throttled by the hand of 
the censorship, none was in existence. Only in Russian fiction 
one might see the shadow of the Jew moving across. In the 
imagination of the great Russian poet Pushkin this shadow 
wavered between the " despised Jew" of the street (in the 
" Blaek Shawl," 1820) and the figure of the venerable " old 
man reading the Bible under the shelter of the night" (in 
the " Beginning of a Novel," 1832). On the other hand, in 
Gogol's "Taras Bulba" (1835-1842) the Jew bears the well- 
defined features of an inhuman fiend. In the delineation of the 
hideous figure of "Zhyd Yankel," a mercenary, soulless, 
dastardly creature, Gogol, the descendant of the haidamacks, 1 
gave vent to his inherited hatred of the Jew, the victim 

[ x Name of the Ukrainian rebels who rose in the seventeenth 
century against the tyranny of their Polish masters. Compare 
vol. I, p. 182, n. 8 J 



of Khmelnitzki * and the haidamacks. In these dismal his- 
toric tragedies, in the figures of the Jewish martyrs of old 
Ukraina, Gogol can only discern "miserable, terror-stricken 
creatures." Thus one of the principal founders of Russian 
fiction set up in its very center the repelling scarecrow of a 
Jew, an abomination of desolation, which poured the poison 
of hatred into the hearts of the Bussian readers and determined 
to a certain extent the literary types of later writers. 

In the back-yards of Bussian literature, which were then 
most of all patronized by the reading public, the literary 
slanderer Thaddeus Bulgarin delineated in his novel "Ivan 
Vyzhigin n (1329) the type of a Lithuanian Jew by the name 
of Movsha (Moses) , who appears as the embodiment of all mor- 
tal sins. The product of an untalented and tainted, pen, Bul- 
garia's novel was soon forgotten. Yet it contributed its share 
toward instilling Jew-hatred into the minds of the Bussian 

[* Compare voL I, p. 144 et *egj 




1. Thx " Assortment " of thb Jews 

The beginning of the " Second Emancipation " of 1848 in 
Western Europe synchronized with the last phase of the era 
of oppression in Russia. That phase, representing the con- 
cluding seven years of pre-reformatory Russia, was a dark 
patch in the life of the country at large, doubly dark in the 
life of the Jews. The power of absolutism, banished by the 
March revolution from the European West, asserted itself 
with intensified fury in the land of the North, which had about 
that time earned the unenviable reputation of the " gendarme 
of Europe/' Thrown back on its last stronghold, absolutism 
concentrated its energy upon the suppression of all kinds of 
revolutionary movements. In default of such a movement in 
Russia itself, this energy broke through the frontier line and 
found an outlet in the punitive expedition sent to support the 
Austrians in the pacification of mutinous Hungary. The 
triumphant passwords of political freedom which were given 
out on the other side of the Western frontier only intensified 
the reactionary rage on this side. Since it was impossible to 
punish action — for under the vigilant eye of the terrible 
" Third Section * * revolutionary endeavors were a matter of 
impossibility — word and thought were subject to punishment. 
Censorship ran riot in the subdued literature of Russia, tearing 
out by the roots anything that did not fit into the mould of 

[ x Compare above, p. 21* n. 1J 


the bureaucratic way of thinking. The quiet precincts of the 
Eussian intelligenzia, who, in the retirement of their homes, 
ventured to dream of a better political and social order, were 
invaded by political detectives who snatched thence numerous 
victims for the scaffold, the galleys, and conscription. Such 
were the contrivances employed during the last years of pre- 
reformatory Bussia to hold together the old order of things in 
the land of officialdom and serfdom, in that Bussia which the 
poet Khomyakov, though patriot and Slavophile, branded thus : 

Blackened in court with falsehood's blackness, 
And stained by the yoke of slavery, 
Pull of godless flattery, of vicious lying, 
And ev*ry possible knavery. 

But the full weight of " the yoke of slavery n and * false- 
hood's blackness," by which pre-reformatory Bussia was 
marked, fell upon the shoulders of the mcst hapless section 
of Eussian subjects, the Jews. The tragic gloom of the end of 
Nicholas' reign finds its only parallel in Jewish annals in the 
beginning of the same reign. The would-be " reforms " pro- 
posed in the interval, in the beginning of the forties, did not 
deceive the popular instinct. The Jews of the Pale saw not 
only the hand which was holding forth the charter of enlight- 
enment but also til 3 other hand which hid a stone in the form 
of new cruel restrictions. Soon the Government threw off the 
mask of enlightenment, and set out to realize its reserve 
program, that of " correcting " the Jews by police methods. 

It will be remembered that the principal item in this pro- 
gram was " the assortment of the Jews," t. e., the segregation 
from among them of all persons without a certain status as 
to property or without definite occupations, for the purpose 
of proceeding against them as criminal members of society. 


As far back as 1846 the Government forewarned the Jews of 
the imminent " bloody operation oyer a whole class," against 
which Governor-General Vorontaov had vainly protested/ All 
Jews were ordered to register at the earliest possible moment 
among the guilds and estates assigned to them, "with tho 
understanding that in case this measure should fail, the 
Government would of itself carry out the assortment," to wit: 
" it will set apart the Jews who are not engaged in productive 
labor, and will subject them, as burdensome to society, to 
various restrictions." The threat fell flat, for it was rather 
too much to expeet that fully, a half of the Jewish population, 
doomed by civil disabilities and general economic conditions 
to a life of want and distress, could obtain at a stroke the 
ne o oooa ry "property status " or u definite occupations/' 

Accordingly, on November 23, 1851, the Tzar gave his 
sanction to the " Temporary Bules Concerning the Assortment 
of the Jews/' All Jews were divided into five categories: 
merchants, agriculturists, artisans, settled burghers, and un- 
settled burghers. The first three categories were to be made up 
of those who were enrolled among the corresponding guilds and 
estates. "Settled burghers" were to be those engaged in 
" burgher trade " * with business licenses, also the clergy and 
the learned class. The remaining huge mass of the proletariat 
was placed in the category of " unsettled burghers," who were 
liable to increased military conscription and to harsher legal 
restrictions as compared with the first four tolerated classes of 
Jews. This hapless proletariat, either out of work or only 
occasionally at work, was to bear a double measure of oppres- 
sion and persecution, and was to be branded as despised 

[* See above, p. 64 et teg.] 

[* I. *., petty trade, as distinguished from the more comprehensive 
business carried on by the merchants who were enrolled In the 
mercantile solids.] 


By April 1, 1852, the Jews belonging to the four tolerated 
categories were required to produce their certificates of enrol- 
ment before the local authorities. Those who had failed to 
do so were to be entered in the fifth category, the criminal 
class of " unsettled burghers." Within the brief space allotted 
to them the J«wb found themselves unable to obtain the nec- 
essary documents, and, thanks to the representations of the 
governors-general of the Western governments, the term was 
extended till the autumn of 1852, but even then the " assort- 
ment " had not yet been accomplished. The Government was 
fully prepared to launch a series of Draconian laws against 
the " parasites/' including police inspection and compulsory 
labor. But while engaged in these charitable projects, the 
law-givers were taken aback by the Crimean War, which, with 
its disastrous consequences for Bussia, diverted their attention 
from their war against the Jews. Tet for a successive number 
of years the law concerning the " assortment,'' or razryaden, 
as it was popularly styled by the Jews, hung like the sword 
of Damocles over the heads of hundreds of thousands of Jews, 
and the anxiety of the suffering masses was poured out in 
sad popular ditties: 

Ach, a tzore, a gzeire mit die raarysdenl* 

2. CoMPULSOfiY Assimilation 

As for the measures of compulsory assimilation long ago fore- 
shadowed by the Government, such as the substitution of the 
Russian or German style of dress for the traditional Jewish 
attire, the long coats of the men, they were without any effect 

[* " Alas! What misfortune and persecution there is in the as- 
sortment! "] 



on Jewish life, and merely resulted in confusion and conster- 
nation. A curt imperial ukase issued on May 1, 1850, prohib- 
ited " all over (the Empire) the use of a distinct Jewish form 
of dress, beginning with January 1, 1851," though the gov- 
ernors-general were given the right of permitting aged Jews 
to wear out their old garments on the payment of a definite 
tax. The prohibition extended to the earlocks, or peies, of 
the men. 

A year later, in April, 1851, the Government made a further 
step in advance and proceeded to deal with the female attire. 
"His Imperial Majesty was graciously pleased to command 
that Jewish women be forbidden to shave their heads upon 
entering into marriage." 1 In October, 1852, tins ukase was 
supplemented by the regulation that a married Jewess guilty 
of shaving her head was liable to a fine of five rubles ($2.50), 
and the rabbi abetting the crime was to be prosecuted. Since 
neither the Jews nor the Jewesses were willing to submit 
to imperial orders, the former from habit, the latter from 
religious scruples, the provincial authorities entered upon a 
regular warfare against these * rebels." Both the governors- 
general and the governors subordinate to them displayed ex- 
traordinary enthusiasm in this direction. The officials tracked 
with utmost zeal not only the women culprits but also their 
accomplices the rabbis who attended the wedding ceremony, 
even including the barbers who were ealled in to shave the 
heads of the Jewish ladies. Jewish women were examined 
at the police stations to find out whether they still wore their 
own hair beneath their kerchiefs or wigs. Frequently the 

[* In accordance with orthodox Jewish practice, married women 
are not allowed to expose their own hair. Apart from the wearing 
of a wig, or BKeitel, it was also customary for women to cut or 
shave their hair before their wedding and cover their heads with 
a kerchief.] 


straggle manifested itself in tragic-comic and even repulsive 
forms. In some places the police adopted the practice of cut- 
ting the peies or shortening the long coats of the Jews by force. 
The opposition to the authorities was particularly vigorous 
in the Kingdom of Poland where the rank and file of Hasidim 
were ready to suffer martyrdom for any Jewish custom, how- 
ever obsolete. The fight was drawn out for a long time and 
even reached into the following reign, but the victory re- 
mained with the obstreperous masses. Though at a later 
period, as the result of general cultural tendencies, the tradi- 
tional Jewish costume made way in certain sections of Jewry 
for the European form of dress, it was not in obedience to 
police measures, but in spite of them. Compulsory assimila- 
tion was as little successful now as had been compulsory 
isolation in the Middle Ages. The medieval rulers had im- 
posed upon the Jews a distinct form of garment and a " yellow 
badge " to keep them apart from the Christians. Nicholas I. 
employed forcible means to make the JewB by their style of 
dress appear similar to the Christians. The violence resorted 
to in both cases, though different in form, sprang from the 
same motive. 

3. New Conscription Horeobs 

There was yet one domain in which the squeezing and 
pressing power of Tzardom could fully employ its destructive 
energy. We refer to military conscription. This genuine 
creation of the imperial brain became more and more intol- 
erable, serving in Jewish life as a penal and correctional 
agency, with its u capture " of old and young, its inquisitorial 
regime of cantonists, its deportation for a quarter of a century 
and longer into far-off regions. Even the Russian peasants 
were stricken with terror at the thought of Nicholas' con- 



scription, which in the reminiscences of the porlrayers 
of that period is pictured as life-long deportation, and they 
frequently shirked military duty by fleeing from the land- 
owners and hiding themselves in the woods. How much more 
terrible must then conscription hare been for the Jew, whose 
family was robbed both of a young father and a tender son. 
No means was left unused to erode this atrocious obligation* 
The reports of the governors refer to the "immeasurable 
difficulties in carrying out the conscription among the Jews. 9 

Apart from innumerable cases of sett-mutilation — to quote the 
words of one of these reports written in 1850 — the disappearance, 
without exception, of all able-bodied Jews has become so general 
that in some communities, outside of those unfit for military ser- 
vice beeanse of age or physical defects, not a single person can be 
found during conscription who might be drafted into the army. 
Some flee abroad, whilst others hide in adjacent governments. 

Those ip hiding were hunted down like wild beasts. Their 
life, as a contemporary witness testifies, was worse than that 
of galley slaves, for the slightest indiscretion brought ruin 
upon them. Many resorted to self -mutilation to render them- 
selves unfit for military service. They chopped off their fingers 
or toes, damaged their eyesight, and perpetrated every pos- 
sible form of maiming to evade a military service which was 
in effect penal servitude. " The most tender-hearted mother," 
to quote a contemporary, " would place the finger of her beloved 
son under the kitchen knife of a home-bred quack surgeon." 

This evasion resulted in immense shortages which pressed 
heavily upon the Jewish communities, since the latter were 
held collectively responsible for supplying the full quota of 
Tecruits. Hie reports about the unsatisfactory conscription 
results among the Jews filled the Government in St Peters- 


burg with rage. The persistent reluctance of human beings 
to be parted almost for life from those near and dear to them, 
or to see their little ones carried off to an early grave or to the 
baptismal font, was regarded as a manifestation of criminal 
self-will. Accordingly, the former measures of " cutting 
short " and u curbing " this self-will were improved upon by 
new ones. In December, 1850, the Tzar gave orders that for 
every missing Jewish recruit in a given community three men 
of the minimum age of twenty from the same community and 
one more recruit for every two thousand rubles ($1000) of tax 
arrears should be impressed into service. A year later the fol- 
lowing atrocious measures were issued for the purpose "of 
cutting short the concealment of Jews from military service " : 
the fugitives were to be captured, flogged, and drafted into 
the army over and above the required quota of recruits. The 
communities in which they were hidden were to be fined. The 
relatives of a recruit who failed to present himself in proper 
time were to be taken in his stead, even if these relatives 
happened to be heads of families. The official representa- 
tives of the communities were equally liable to being sent into 
the army if found convicted of any inaccuracy in carrying out 
the conscription. 

A reign of terror followed in the Jewish communities upon 
the promulgation of these laws. The Kahal elders — it will 
be remembered that they continued to exist after the abroga- 
tion of the Kahals, acting as the fiscal agents of the Govern- 
ment 1 — pow faced a terrible alternative: to become, in the 
words of a contemporary, " either murderers of martyrs," *• «•> 
either to capture and send into the army any youth or boy, 
without discrimination, or themselves to don the gray uniform 

[* See above, p. 60.] 


and be impressed into military services as "penal" recruits. In 
consequence, a fiendish hunt after human beings was set afoot 
in the Pale of Settlement. Adults were seized and, regard- 
less of their being the only mainstay of their families, were 
taken captive, and children of eight were captured and pre- 
sented to the recruiting authorities as being of the obligatory 
age of twelve. But despite all this hunting, many communities 
* were not able to furnish their quota of soldiers, and the number 
of u penal " recruits from among the Eahal eiders was very 

Weeping and moaning resounded in the neighborhood of 
the recruiting stations in the Jewish towns where parents and 
relatives took leave from their dear ones who were doomed 
to a perpetual barrack life. And yet the fury of the Govern- 
ment was not satisfied. In 1853 new " temporary rules " were 
issued, " by way of experiment," whereby not only communities 
but also individuals among Jews were granted the right of 
offering as their substitutes any fellow-Jew from another city 
than his own who was caught without a passport. Any Jew who 
happened to absent himself from his place of residence without 
a passport could be seized and drafted into service as a substi- 
tute for a regular recruit due from the family of the captor. 
The " captive," regardless of age, was made a soldier, and the 
captor was given a receipt for one recruit. 

A new ferocious hunt began. The official u captors " em- 
ployed by the Kahals were no longer the only ones to prowl 
after living prey. The chase was now taken up by every pri- 
vate individual who wished to find a substitute for a member 
of his family, or who simply wanted to turn a penny by selling 
his recruiting receipt. Hordes of Jewish bandits sprang up 
who infested the roads and the inns, and by trickery or 


force made the travellers part with their passports and then 
dragged them to the recruiting stations as "captives" to 
be sent into the army. Never before had the Jewish masses, 
yielding to pressure from above, sunk to such depths of 
degradation. The Jew became a beast of prey to his fellow- 
Jew. Jews were afraid of budging an inch from their native 
cities. Every passer-by was suspected of being a captor or a / 
bandit. The recruiting inquisition of Nicholas inflicted upon 
the Jews the utmost limit of martyrdom. It set Jew against 
Jew, called forth a a war of all against all," threw the tortured 
and the torturers into one heap, and sullied the Jewish soul. 
All this took place while the Crimean War was going on: 
The Russian army, on the altar of which so many human sac- 
rifices had been offered in the course of thirty years, marched 
to save "the honor of Russia," in truth, to save the old 
regime. Squadron upon squadron issued from the inner re- 
cesses of Russia, and marched towards the battlefields of the 
South, marched to the slaughter, into the mouths of the 
cannons of the English and French, who knew how to conquer 
without penal conscriptions and without inflicting tortures 
upon tender-aged cantonists. The "gendarme of Europe," 
who, armed to his teeth, had contemptuously threatened to 
u finish the enemy with his soldier caps," could not hold out .. 
against the army of the " rotten West." Hundreds of thou- ' 
sands of Russian soldiers fell beneath the walls of Sevastopol, 
upon the heights of Inkerman. Thousands of Jewish soldiers , 
were laid among them in "brotherly graves." The Jews, 
enslaved by pie-reformatory Russia, died for a fatherland 
which treated them as pariahs, which had bestowed upon them 
a monstrous conscription, the unexampled institutions of can- 
tonists, penal recruits, and " captives." However, it soon be* 


came clear that those who had fallen under the walls of 
Sevastopol had sealed by their death not the honor but the 
dishonor of the old regime of blood and iron. Beneath the 
rotting corpse of an obsolete statecraft, built upon serfdom 
and maintained by soldiery and police, the germ of a new 
and better Eussia began to stir. 

4. The Ritual Murder Trial of Saratov 

One more detail was lacking to complete the dismal picture 
and to bring out the full symmetry between the end of Nicholas' 
reign and its ominous beginning: a medieval ritual murder 
trial after the pattern of the Velizh case. And a trial of this 
nature did not fail to come. In December, 1852, and in 
January, 1853, two Bussian boys from among the lower classes 
disappeared in the city of Saratov, in central Bussia. Their 
bodies were found two or three months later in the Volga, 
covered with wounds and bearing the traces of circumcision. 
The latter circumstance led the coroners to believe that the 
crime had been perpetrated by Jews. Saratov, a city situated 
outside the Pale of Settlement, harbored at that time a small 
Jewish settlement consisting of some forty soldiers of the 
local garrison and several civilian Jewish tradesmen and 
artisans who lived in the prohibited Volga town by the grace 
of the police. There were also a few converts. 

The vigilant eyes of the coroners were riveted on this settle- 
ment. An official by the name of Durnovo, who had been 
dispatched from St. Petersburg to take charge of the case, 
began at once to direct the inquiry into the channel of a ritual 
murder case. Needless to say there were soon found material 
witnesses from among the ignorant or criminal class who were 
under the hypnotic influence of the ritual murder myth. A 


private, called Bogdanov, who had been convicted of vagrancy, 
and an intoxicated gubernatorial official by the name of Krueger 
testified that they were present at the time when the Jews 
squeezed out the blood from the bodies of the murdered boyB. 
They also mentioned by name the principal perpetrators of 
the murder, the €€ circumcision expert " in the local Jewish 
settlement, a soldier called Shlief erman, and a furrier named 
Yankel Yushkevicher, a devout Jew. The incriminated Jews 
were thrown into prison, but, despite excruciating cross-ex- 
aminations, they and the other defendants indignantly denied 
not only their complicity in the murder but also the ritual 
murder accusation as a whole. 

The investigation became more and more involved, drawing 
into its net a constantly growing number of persons, until 
in July, 1854, a special " Judicial Commission " was appointed 
by order of Nicholas I. for the purpose of disclosing not only 
the particular crime committed at Saratov but also " of inves- 
tigating the dogmas of the religious fanaticism of the Jews." 
The latter task, being of a theoretic nature, was entrusted, in 
1855, to a special commission under the auspices of the Min- 
istry of the Interior. Among the theologians and Hebraists 
who were members of that Commission was also the baptized 
professor Daniel Chwolson who had scientifically disproved 
the ritual legend. In 1856, after a protracted inquiry of two 
years, the judicial commission, having failed to discover 
evidence against the accused, decided to set them at liberty, 
but " to leave them under strong suspicion/' 

In the meantime, Alexander II. had ascended the throne 
of the Tzars, and the dawn of Bussian renascence began to 
disperse the nightmares of the past era. Yet so deeply in- 
grained were the old prejudices in many bureaucratic minds 


that when the conclusion reached by the judicial commission 
was submitted to the Senate the votes were divided. The case 
was transferred to the Council of State, and there the high 
dignitaries managed to effect a compromise between their 
medieval prejudices and their involuntary concessions to the 
spirit of the age. They refused to enter into a discussion of 
" the still unsolved question as to the use of Christian blood 
by the Jews/' but they "unhesitatingly recognized the existence 
of the crime itself," which had been perpetrated at Saratov 
— this in spite of the fact that the only ground on which the 
crime was ascribed to alleged fanatical practices and laid at 
the door of the Jews were the traces of circumcision on the 
dead bodies. Ignoring this inner contradiction and setting 
aside the weighty objections of the liberal Minister of Justice 
Zamyatin, the Council of State brought in a verdict of guilty 
against the impeached Jews, the soldier Shlief erman and the 
two Yushkevichers, senior and junior, sentencing them to 
penal servitude. 

The sentence was confirmed by Alexander II. in May, 1860. 
The representatives of the St. Petersburg community, Baron 
Joseph Oiinzburg and others, petitioned the Tzar to post- 
pone the verdict until the scholarly commission of experts 
should have rendered its decision with regard to the compati- 
bility of ritual murder with the teachings of Judaism. But 
the president of the Council of State, Count Orlov, presented 
the matter to the Tzar in a different light, asserting that 
all that the Jews intended by their petition was " to keep off 
for an indefinite period the decision on a case in which their 
coreligionists are involved." He, therefore, insisted on the 
immediate execution of the sentence, and the Tzar yielded. 


After eight long years of incarceration, in the course of 
which two of the impeached Jews committed suicide, the 
principal " perpetrators " were found to be physical wrecks and 
no longer able to discharge their penal servitude. The inno- 
cent sufferer, old Yushkevicher, languished in prison f o~* seven 
more years, and was finally liberated in 1867 by order of 
Alexander II., who had been petitioned by Adolph Cr6mieux, 
the president of the Alliance Israelite TJniverselle, to pardon 
the unhappy man. In this way the heritage of the dark past 
protruded into the increasing brightness of the new Bussia, 
which in the beginning of the sixties was passing through the 
era of " Great Bef onus." 


1. Thb Abolition of Juvenile Conscription 

When after the Crimean War, which had exposed the rotten* 
ness of the old order of things, a fresh current of air swept 
through the atmosphere of Russia, and the liberation of the 
peasantry and other great reforms were coming to fruition, 
the Jewish problem, too, was in line of being placed in 
the forefront of these reforms. For, after having done away 
with the institution of serfdom, the State was consistently 
bound to liberate its three million of Jewish serfs who had 
been ruthlessly oppressed and persecuted during the old regime. 

Unfortunately the Jewish question, which was nothing more 
nor less than the question of equal citizenship for the Jews, 
was not placed in the line of the great reforms, but was pushed 
to the rear and solved f ragmentarily — on the instalment plan, 
as it were— and within narrowly circumscribed limits. Like 
all the other officially inspired reforms of that period, which 
proceeded up to a certain point and halted before the prohibited 
zone of constitutional and political liberties, so, too, the solu- 
tion of the Jewish problem was not allowed to pass beyond the 
border-line. For the crossing of that line would have rendered 
the whole question null and void by the simple recognition of 
the equality of all citizens. The regenerated Sussia of 
Alexander II., stubborn in its refusal of political freedom and 
civil equality, could only choose the path of half-measures. 
Nevertheless, the transition from the pre-ref ormatory order 


of things to the new state of affairs signified a radical depar- 
ture both in the life of Bussia in general and in Jewish life in 
particular. It did so not because the new conditions were 
perfect, but because the old ones were so inexpressibly ugly 
and unbearable, and the mere loosening of the chains of servi- 
tude was hailed as a pledge of complete liberation. 

Far more intense than in the political life of Bussia waa 
the crisis in its social life. While a chilling wind was still 
blowing from the wintry heights of Bussian officialdom, while 
a grim censorship was still holding down the flight of the 
printed word, the released social energy was whirling and 
swirling in all classes of Bussian society, sometimes breaking 
the fetters of police restraint. The outbursts of young Bussia 
ran far ahead of the slow progress of the reforms inspired from 
above. It blazed the path for political freedom which the 
West of Europe bad long traversed, and which was to prove 
in Bussia tortuous and thorny. 

The phase of Jewish life which claimed the first thought 
of Alexander II/s Government was the military conscrip- 
tion. Prior to the conclusion of the Crimean War, the Com- 
mittee on Jewish Affairs 1 called the Tzar's attention to the 
necessity of modifying the method of Jewish conscription, 
with its fiendish contrivances of seizing juvenile cantonists 
and enlisting " penal " and " captive " recruits. Nevertheless 
the removal of this crying evil was postponed for a year, until 
the promulgation of the Coronation Manifesto * of August 26, 
1856, when it was granted as an act of grace. 

Prompted by the desire — the Manifesto reads — of making it 
easier for the Jews to discharge their military duty and of averting 
the inconveniences attached thereto, we command as follows: 

[' See above, p. 49.] 

[' On the meaning of Manifesto see later, p. 246, n. 1.] 


1. Reernlts from among the Jews are to be drafted In the same 
way as from among the other estates, primarily from among those 
unsettled and not engaged in productive labor. 1 Only in default of 
able-bodied men among these, the shortage is to be made up from 
among the category of Jews who by reason of their engaging in 
productive labor are recognised as useful. 

2. The drafting of recruits from among other estates and of those 
under age is to be repealed. 

3. In regard to the making up of the shortage of recruits, the 
general laws are to be applied, and the exaction of recruits from 
Jewish communities as a penalty for arrears is to be repealed. 

4. The temporary rules, enacted by way of experiment in 1853, 
granting Jewish communities and Jewish indiTlduals the right 
of presenting as recruits in their own stead coreligionists seized 
without passports 1 are to be repealed. 

The abolition of juvenile conscription followed automat- 
ically upon the annulment, by virtue of the same Coronation 
Manifesto, of the general Bussian institution of u cantonists ' 
and " soldier children," who were now ordered to be returned 
to their parents and relatives. Only in the case of the Jews 
a rider was attached to the effect that those Jewish children 
who had embraced Christianity during their term of military 
service should not be allowed to go back to their parents and 
relatives, if the latter remained in their old faith, and should 
be placed exclusively in Christian families. 

The Coronation Manifesto of 1856 marks the end of the 
recruiting inquisition, which had lasted for nearly thirty years, 
adding a unique page to the annals of Jewish martyrdom. 
In the matter of conscription, at least, the Jews were, in a 
certain measure, granted equal rights. The operation of the 
general statute concerning military service was extended to 

[* See on these designations pp. 64 and 148.] 
F See above, p. 148 et *eq.] 


them, with a few limitations which were the heritage of the 
past The old plan of the * assortment of the Jews " is re* 
fleeted in the clause of the Manifesto, providing for increased 
conscription from among " those unsettled and not engaged 
in productive labor," i. e., of the mass of the proletariat, as 
distinct from the more or less well-to-do classes. Nor was the 
old historic crime made good : the Jewish cantonists who had 
been forcibly converted to the Greek-Orthodox faith were not 
allowed to retain to their kindred. As heretofore, baptism re- 
mained a conditio sine qua non for the advancement of a 
Jewish soldier, and only in 1861 was permission given to pro- 
mote a Jewish private to the rank of a sergeant for general 
merit, without special distinction on the battlefield which had 
been formerly required. Beyond this rank no Jew could hope 
to advance. 

2. " homcbopathio " emancipation ahd the policy 01* 

* Fusion " 

Following upon the removal of the u black stain " of con- 
scription came the question of lightening the " yoke of slavery," 
that heavy burden of rightlessness which pressed so grievously 
upon the outcasts of the Jewish Pale. Already in March, 
1856, Count Kiselev, a semi-liberal official and formerly the 
president of the "Jewish Committee" which had been ap- 
pointed in 1840* and which was composed of the heads of 
the various ministries, submitted a memorandum to Alex- 
ander II. in which he took occasion to point out that " the 
attainment of the goal indicated in the imperial ukase of 1840, 
that of bringing about the fusion of the Jews with the gen- 

[* See above, p. 49 e* seq.\ 



eral population, is hampered by various provisionally enacted 
restrictions which, when taken in conjunction with the gen- 
eral laws, contain contradictions and engender confusion." 

The result was an imperial order, dated March 31, 1856, 
" to revise all existing regulations affecting the Jews so as to 
bring them into harmony with the general policy of fusing this 
people with the original inhabitants, as far as the moral status 
of Ike Jews may render it possible." The same ministers who 
had taken part in the labors of the Jewish Committee were 
instructed to draft a plan looking to the modification of the 
la,ws affecting the Jews and to submit their suggestions to the 

In this way the inception of the new reign was marked 
by a characteristic slogan: the fusion of the Jews with the 
Bussian people, to be promoted by alleviations in their legal 
status. The way leading to this " fusion " was, in the judg- 
ment of Bussian officialdom, blocked by the historic unity of 
the Jewish nation, a unity which in governmental phraseology 
was styled " Jewish separatism " and interpreted as the effect 
of the inferior " moral status " of the Jews. At the same time 
it was implied that Jews with better " morals," i. «., those who 
have shown a leaning toward Bussification, might be accorded 
special legal advantages over their retrograde coreligionists. 

From that moment the bureaucratic circles of St. Peters-; 
burg became obsessed with the idea of picking out special 
groups from among the Jewish population, distinguished by 
financial or educational qualifications, for the purpose of 
bestowing upon them certain rights and privileges. It was 
the old coin — Nicholas' idea of the "assortment" of the 
Jews — with a new legend stamped upon it. Formerly it had 
been intended to penalize the " useless " or " unsettled burgh- 


era " by intensifying their rightlessness ; now this plan gave 
way to the policy of rewarding the " useful " elements by en- 
larging their rights or reducing their rightleesnesB. The 
objectionable principle upon which this whole system was 
founded, the division of a people into categories erf favorites 
and outcasts, remained in full force. There was only a differ- 
ence in degree: the threat of legal restrictions for the diso- 
bedient was replaced by holding out promises of legal allevia- 
tions for the obedient. 

A small group of influential Jewish merchants in St. Peters- 
burg, which stood in close relations to the highest official 
spheres, the purveyor and banker Baron Joseph Yozel Giinz- 
burg * and others, seized eagerly upon this idea which bade fair 
to shower privileges upon the well-to-do classes. In June, 
1856, this group addressed a petition to Alexander II., com- 
plaining about the disabilities which weighed so heavily upon 
all Jews, " from the artisan to the first guild merchant* from 
the private soldier to the Master of Arts, and f oreed them down 
to the level of a degraded, suspected, untolerated tribe/' At 
the same time they assured the Tzar that, were the Government 
to give a certain amount of encouragement to the Jews, the 
latter would gladly meet it half-way and help in the realization 
of its policy to draw the Jews nearer to the original inhabi- 
tants and turn them in the direction of productive labor. 

Were — the petitioners declare — the new generation which has 
been brought up In the spirit and under the control of the Gov- 
ernment, were the higher mercantile class which for many years 
has diffused life, activity, and wealth in the land, were the con- 
scientious artisanB who earn their bread in the sweat of their 
brow, to receive from the Government, as a mark of distinction, 

[* Popularly known by his middle name as Yozel.} 


larger rights than those who have done nothing to attest their 
well-meaningness, usefulness, and industry, then the whole Jew- 
ish people, seeing that these few favored ones are the object of the 
Government's righteousness and benevolence and models of what 
it desires the Jews to become, would joyfully hasten to attain the 
goal marked out by the Government Our present petition, there- 
fore, is to the effect that our gracious sovereign may bestow his 
kindness upon us, and, by distinguishing the grain from the chaff, 
may be pleased to accord a few moderate privileges to the most 
educated among us, to wit: 

1. "Equal rights with the other (Russian) subjects or with 
the Karaite Jews 1 to the educated and well-deserving Jews who 
possess the title of Honorary Citizens, to the merchants affiliated 
for a number of years with the first or second guild and dis- 
tinguished by their business integrity, to the soldiers who have 
served irreproachably in the army." 

2. The right of residence outside the Pale of Settlement " to the 
best among the artisans " who possess laudatory certificates from 
the trade-unions. The privileges thus accorded to "the best 
among us " will help to realize the consummation of the Govern- 
ment " that the sharply marked traits which distinguish the Jews 
from the native Russians should be levelled, and that the Jews 
should in their way of thinking and acting become akin to the 
latter." Once placed outside their secluded "Pale," the Jews 
" will succeed in adopting from the genuine Russians the praise- 
worthy qualities, by which they are distinguished, and the 
striving for culture and useful endeavor will become universal." 

The petition reflects the humiliating attitude of men who 
were standing on the boundary line between slavery and free- 
dom, whose cast of mind had been formed Ander the regime 
of oppression and caprice. Pointing to the example of the 
West where the bestowal of equal rights had contributed to 
the success of Jewish assimilation, the St. Petersburg peti- 
tioners were not even courageous enough to demand equal rights 

P On the emancipation of the Karaites see voL I, p. 318.] 


as the price of assimilation, and professed, perhaps from diplo- 
matic considerations, to content themselves with miserable 
crumbs of rights and privileges for "the best among us." 
They failed to realize the meanness of their suggestion to 
divide a nation into best and worst, into those worthy of a 
human existence and those unworthy of it. 

3. The Extension of thb Bight of Residence 

After some wavering, the Government decided to adopt the 
method of " picking " the best. The intention of the authori- 
ties was to apply the gradual relaxation of Jewish rightless- 
ness not to groups of restrictions, but to groups of persons. 
The Government entered upon the scheme of abolishing or 
alleviating certain restrictions not for the whole Jewish popu- 
lation but merely for a few " useful " sections within it. Three 
such sections were marked off from the rest: merchants of the 
first guild, university graduates, and incorporated artisans. 

The resuscitated " Committee for the Amelioration of the 
Jews " * displayed an intense activity during that period ( 1856- 
1863). For fully two years (1857-1859) the question -of 
granting the right of permanent residence in the interior 
governments to merchants of the first guild occupied the 
attention of that Committee and of the Council of State. The 
Committee had originally proposed to restrict this privilege 
by imposing a series of exceedingly onerous conditions. Thus, 
the merchants intending to settle in the Russian interior were 
to be required to have belonged to the first guild within the 
Pale for ten years previously, and they were to be allowed to 
leave the Pale only after securing in each case a permit from 
the Ministers of the Interior and of Finance. But the Council 

[* Compare above, p. 49.] 



of State found that, circumscribed in this manner, the privilege 
would benefit only a negligible fraction of the Jewish merchant 
class — there were altogether one hundred and eight Jewish 
first-guild merchants within the Pale — and, therefore, con- 
sidered it necessary to reduce the requirements for settling in 
the interior. 
A long succession of meetings of this august body was taken 
^up with the perplexing problem how to attract big Jewish 
capital into the central governments and at the same time 
safeguard the latter against the excessive influx of Jews, who, 
for the sake of settling there, would register in the first guild 
and, under the disguise of relatives, would bring with them, 
as one of the members of the Council put it, " the whole tribe 
of Israel." After protracted discussions, a resolution was 
adopted which was in substance as follows : 

The Jewish merchants who have belonged to the first guild for 
not less than two years prior to the issuance of the present law 
shall be permitted to settle permanently in the interior govern- 
ments, accompanied by their families and a limited number of 
servants and clerks. These merchants shall be entitled to live 
and trade on equal terms with the Russian merchants, with the 
proviso that, after the settlement, they shall continue their mem- 
bership in the first guild as well as their payment of the appertain* 
ing membership dues for no less than ten years, failing which they 
shall be sent back into the Pale. Big Jewish merchants and 
bankers from abroad, " noted for their social position," shall be 
allowed to trade in Russia under a Special permit to be secured 
in each case from the Ministers of the Interior and of Finance. 

The resolution of the Council of State was sanctioned by 
the Tzar on March 16, 1859, and thus became law. 

In this manner the way was opened for big Jewish capital 
to enter the two Eussian capitals and the tabooed interior. 


The advent of the big capitalists was followed by the influx of 
their less fortunate brethren, who, driven by material want 
from the Pale, were forced to seek new domiciles, and in the 
shape of first guild dues paid for many years a heavy toll for 
their right of residence and commerce. The position of these 
merchants offers numerous points of contact with the status 
of the " tolerated " Jewish merchants in Vienna and Lower 
Austria prior to 1848. 

Toleration having been granted to the Jews with a proper 
financial status, the Government proceeded to extend the same 
treatment to persons with educational qualifications. The 
latter class was the subject of protracted debates in the Jewish 
Committee as well as in the Ministries and in the Council of 
State. As early as in 1857 the Minister of Public Instruction 
Norov had submitted a memorandum to the Jewish Committee 
in which he argued that " religious fanaticism and prejudice 
among the Jews " could only be exterminated by inducing the 
Jewish youth to enter the general educational establishments, 
" which end can only be obtained by enlarging their civil rights 
and by offering them material advantages." Accordingly, 
Norov suggested that the right of residence in the whole 
Russian Empire should be granted to the graduates of the 
higher and secondary educational institutions. 1 Those Jews 
who should have failed to attend school were to be re- 
stricted in their right of entering the mercantile guilds. The 
Jewish Committee refused to limit the rights of those who did 
not attend the general schools, and proposed, instead, as a bait 

[ 1 The latter category comprises primarily the gymnasia (see 
next note) in which the classic languages are taught, and the 
so-called real aymnazia in which emphasis is laid on science. The 
higher educational institutions, or the institutions of higher learn- 
ing, are the universities and the professional schools, on which see 
next page, n. 4.] 



f or the Jews who shunned secular education, to confer special 
privileges in the discharge of military service upon those Jews 
who had attended the gymnasia, 1 or even the Kussian district 
schools/ or the Jewish Crown schools/ more exactly, to grant 
them the right of buying themselves off from conscription by 
the payment of one hundred to two hundred rubles (1859). 
But the Military Department vetoed this proposal on the 
ground that education would thus- bestow privileges upon 
Jews which were denied even to Christians. The suggestion 
relating to military privileges was therefore abandoned, and 
the promotion of education among Jews reduced itself to an 
extension of the right of residence. 

In this connection the Jewish Committee warmly debated 
the question as to whether the right of residence outside the 
Pale should be accorded to graduates of the higher and 
secondary educational institutions, or only to those of the 
higher. The Ministers of the Interior and Public Instruction 
(Lanskoy and Kovalevski) advocated the former more liberal 
interpretation. But the majority of the Committee members, 
acting " in the interests of a graduated emancipation," rejected 
the idea of bestowing the universal right of residence upon the 
graduates of gymnazia and lyceums and even upon those of 
universities and other institutions of higher learning/ with the 
exception of those who had received a learned degree, Doctor, 

I 1 The name applies on the European continent to secondary 
schools. A Russian gymnazia (and similarly a German gymnar 
zium) has an eight years' course. Its curriculum corresponds 
roughly to a combined high school and college course in Ameriea.] 

[*/. e., schools found in the capitals of districts (or counties), 
preparatory to the gymnazia.'] 

[* See above, p. 58 and below, p. 174.] 

['Such as technological, veterinary* dental, and other profes- 
sional schools, which are independent of the universities.] 


Magister, or Candidate. 1 The Committee was willing, on the 
other hand, to permit the possessors of a learned degree not only 
to settle in the interior but also to enter the civil service. The 
Jewish university graduate was thus expected to submit a 
scholarly paper or even a doctor dissertation for two pur- 
poses, for procuring the right of residence in some Siberian 
locality and for the right of serving the State. Particular 
" circumspection " was recommended by the Committee with 
reference to Jewish medical men : a Jewish physician, with- 
out the degree of M. D., was not to be permitted to pass beyond 
the Pale. 

In this shape the question was submitted to the Council of 
State in 1861. Here opinions were evenly divided. Twenty 
members advocated the necessity of " bestowing " the right of 
residence not only on graduates of universities but also of 
gymnazxa, advancing the argument that even in the case of 
a Jewish gymnavist " " it is in all likelihood to be presumed 
that the gross superstitions and prejudices which hinder the 
association of the Jews with the original population of the 
Empire will be, if not entirely eradicated, at least considerably 
weakened, and a further sojourn among Christians will con- 
tribute toward the ultimate extermination of these sinister 
prejudices which stand in the way of every moral improve- 
ment. w 

Such was the opinion of the " liberal " half of the Council 
of State. The conservative half argued differently. Only 

[* MaaUter in Russia corresponds roughly to the same title in 
England and America. It is inferior to the doctor degree and 
precedes it. Candidate is a title, now mostly abolished, given to 
the best university students who have completed their course and 
have presented a scholarly paper, without having passed the fall 

[*I. c, the pupil of a aymnamiuvi.] 


those Jews deserve the right of residence who have received 
" an education such as may serve as a pledge of their having 
renounced the errors of fanaticism/' The wise measures 
adopted u as a precaution against the influx of Jews into the 
interior governments " would lose their efficacy, "w^re per- 
mission to settle all over Russia to be granted suddenly to 
all Jews who have for a short term attended a gymnazium in the 
Western and South-western region, for no other purpose, to 
be sure, than that of pursuing on a larger scale their illicit 
trades and other harmful occupations/ 9 Hence only Jews with 
a " reliable education/' t. e., the graduates of higher educa- 
tional institutions, who have obtained a learned degree, should 
be permitted to pass the boundary of the Pale. 

Alexander II. endorsed the opinion of the conservative mem- 
bers of the Council of State. The law, promulgated on 
November 27, 1861, reads as follows: 

Jews possessing certificates of the learned degree of Doctor of 
Medicine and Surgery, or Doctor of Medicine, and likewise of 
Doctor, Magister, or Candidate of other university faculties, are 
admitted to serve in all Government offices, without their being 
confined to the Pale established for the residence of Jews. They 
are also permitted to settle permanently in all the province* of 
the Empire for the pursuit of commerce and industry. 

In addition, the law specifies that, apart from the members 
of their families, these Jews shall be permitted to keep, as a 
maximum, "two domestic servants from among their co- 

The promulgation of this law brought about a curious state 
of affairs, the upshot of the genuinely Russian homoeopathic 
system of emancipation. A handful of Jews who had ob- 
tained learned degrees from universities were permitted not 
only to reside in the interior of the Empire, but were also 


admitted here and there to Government service, in the capacity 
of civil and military physicians. Yet both of these rights were 
denied to all other persons with the same university education, 
"Physicians and Active Students," 1 who had not obtained 
learned degrees. On one occasion the Minister of Public 
Instruction put before the Council of State the following 
legal puzzle : A Jewish student, while attending the university 
of the Kussiari capital, enjoys the right of residence there. 
But when he has successfully finished his course and has ob- 
tained the customary certificate, without the learned degree, 
he forfeits this right and must return to the Pale. 

Yet the Government in its stubbornness refused to make 
concessions, and when it was forced to make them, it did so 
rather in its own interest than in that of the Jews. Owing 
to the scarcity of medical help in the army and in the interior, 
ukases issued in 1865 and 1867 declared Jewish physicians, 
even without the title of Doctor of Medicine, to be admissible 
to the medical corps and later on to civil service in all places 
of the Empire, except the capitals St. -Petersburg and Mos- 
cow. Nevertheless, the extension of the plain right of domi- 
cile, without admission to civil service, remained for a long 
time dependent on a learned degree. It was only after two 
decades of hesitation that the law of January 19, 1879, con- 
ferred the right of universal residence on all categories of 
persona with a higher education, regardless of the nature of 
the diploma, and also including pharmacists, dentists, feld- 
shers* and midwives. 

[*Both titles are given at the conclusion of the prescribed 
university course; the former to medical students, the latter to 
students of other faculties.] 

[' From the German Feldscherer, a sort of combination of leech, 
first-aid, and barber, who frequently save medical advice.] 


The privileges bestowed upon the big merchants and "titled " 
intellectuals affected but a few small groups of the Jewish 
population. The authorities now turned their attention to 
the mass of the people, and, in accordance with its rules of 
political homoeopathy, commenced to pick from it a handful 
; of persons for better treatment. The question of admitting 
\ Jewish artisans into the Bussian interior occupied the Govern- 
ment for a long time. In 1856 Lanakoy, the Minister of the 
Interior, entered into an official correspondence concerning 
this matter with the governors-general and governors of the 
Western provinces. Most of the replies were favorable to the 
idea of conferring upon Jewish artisans the right of univer- 
sal residence. Of the three governors-general whose opinion 
had been invited the governor-general of Vilna was the only 
one who thought that the present situation needed no change. 
His colleague of Kiev, Count Vasilchikov, was, on the contrary, 
of the opinion that it would be a rational measure to transfer 
the surplus of Jewish artisans who were cooped up within the 
Pale and had been pauperized by excessive competition to 
the interior governments where there was a scarcity of skilled 

A surprisingly liberal pronouncement came from the gover- 
nor-general of New Russia, Count Stroganov. In the world 

*The official statistics of that time (about the year 1860) 
brought out the fact that the number of Jews in the fifteen govern- 
ments of the Pale of Settlement, exclusive of the Kingdom of 
Poland, but inclusive of the Baltic region, amounted to 1,430,000, 
forming 8% of the total population of that territory. The number 
of artisans in the "Jewish" governments was far greater than 
in the Russian interior. Thus in the government of Kiev there 
were to be found 2.06 artisans to every thousand inhabitants, 
against 0.8 in the near-by government of Kursk, i. e., 2% times 
more. In reality, the number of Jews in the Western region, with- 
out the Kingdom of Poland, exceeded considerably 1% millions, 
there heins no regular registration at that time. 


of Russian officialdom professing the dogma of " gradation '' 
and " caution " in the question of Jewish rights he was the 
only one who had the courage to raise his voice on behalf of 
complete Jewish emancipation. He wrote: 

The existence in ow times of restrictions in the rights of the 
Jews as eompared with the Christian population in any shape 
or form is neither in accord with the spirit and tendency of the 
age nor with the policy of the Government looking towards the 
amalgamation of the Jews with the original population of the 

The count therefore concluded that it was necessary " to per- 
mit the Jews to lire in all the places of the Empire and engage 
without any restrictions and on equal terms with all Russian 
subjects in such crafts and industries as they themselves may 
choose, in accordance with their habits and abilities." It is 
scarcely necessary to add that the bold voice of the Russian 
dignitary, who in a lucid interval spoke up in a manner remi- 
niscent of the civilized West, was not listened to by the bureau- 
crats of St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, as far as the specific 
question of Jewish artisans was concerned, the favorable re- 
plies were bound to have a decisive effect. 

However, red-tape sluggishness managed to retard the 
decision for several years. In 1863 the question was referred 
back to the Jewish Committee, only a short time before the 
dissolution of that body, which for a quarter of a century had 
perpetrated every conceivable experiment over the " ameliora- 
tion of the Jews/' Thence the matter was transferred to the 
Committee of Ministers and finally to the Council of State. 

In the ministerial body, Valuyev, Minister of the Interior, 
favored the idea of granting the right of settling outside the 
Pale to Jewish artisans and mechanics, dependent on certain 



conditions, " by practising caution and endeavoring to avert 
the rapid influx into the midst of the population of the interior 
governments of an element hitherto foreign to it." In reply 
to Baron Korff, who had advocated the admission of the Jewish 
artisans beyond the Pale not only with their families but also 
with Jewish domestics, Valuyev argued that this privilege 
" will enable Jewish business men of all kinds to reside in the 
interior governments, under the guise of employes of their 
coreligionists." "The Jews/' according to Valuyev, "will 
endeavor to transfer their activity to a field economically more 
favorable to them, and it goes without saying that they will 
not fail to seize the first best opportunity of exploiting the 
places of the Empire hitherto inaccessible to them/' The 
Council of State passed the law in the formulation of the 
Ministry of the Interior, adding the necessary precautions 
against the entirely legitimate endeavor of Jewish business 
men " to transfer their activity to a field economically more 
favorable to them." 

After nine years of preparation, on June 28, 1865, Alexander 
II. finally gave his sanction to the law permitting Jewish 
'artisans, mechanics and distillers, including apprentices, to 
reside all over the Empire. Both in the wording of the law 
and in its subsequent application the privilege was hedged 
about by numerous safeguards. Thus, the artisan who wished 
to settle outside the Pale had to produce not only a certificate 
from his trade-union testifying to his professional ability but 
also a testimony from the police that he was not under trial. 
At stated intervals he had to procure a passport from his 
native town in the Pale, since outside the Pale his status was 
that of a temporary resident. In his new place of residence 
he was permitted to deal only in the wares of his own work- 


manship. If he happened to be out of work, he was to be 
sent back to the Pale. 

While opening a valve in the suffocating Pale, the Gov- 
ernment took good care to prevent the artificially pent-up 
Jewish energy from rushing through it. However, having 
been cooped up for so long, the Jews began to press through 
the opening. In the wake of the artisans, who, on account of 
the indicated restrictions of the law or because of the lack 
of travelling expenses, emigrated in comparatively small 
numbers, followed the commercial proletariat, using the crimi- 
nal disguise of artisans, in order to transfer their energies to 
a " field economically more favorable to them." The position 
of these people was tragic. The fictitious artisans became the 
tributaries of the local police, depending entirely on its favor 
or disfavor. The detection of such " criminals " outside the 
Pale was followed by their expulsion and the confiscation of 
their merchandise. 

As a matter of fact, the Russian Government did every- / 
thing in its power to stem the influx of Jews into the interior. 
Only with the greatest reluctance did it widen the range of the 
" privileged " Jewish groups. The Tzar himself, held in the \ 
throes of the old Muscovite tradition, frequently put his veto / 
upon the proposals to enlarge the area of Jewish residence. A ; 
striking illustration of this attitude may be found in the case \ 
of the retired Jewish soldiers, who, after discharging their 
galley-like army service of a quarter of a century, were ex- 
pelled from the places where they had been stationed and sent 
back into the Pale. To the report submitted in 1858 by the 
Jewish Committee, pointing out the necessity of granting the 
right of universal residence to these soldiers, the Tzar attached v 
the resolution : " I decidedly refuse to grant it" When peti- * 


tions to the same effect became more insistent, all he did was to 
permit in I860, " by way of exemption," a group of retired 
soldiers who had served in St. Petersburg in the body-guard 
to remain in the capital. Ultimately, however, he was obliged 
to yield, and in 1867 he revoked the law prohibiting retired 
Jewish soldiers to live outside the Pale. Thus after long 
wavering the right of domicile was finally bestowed upon the 
so-called "Nicholas soldiers" and their offspring-— a rather 
niggardly reward for having served the fatherland under the 
terrible hardships of the old form of conscription. 

4. Further Alleviations and Attempts at Russipication 

Nevertheless, the liberal spirit of the age did its work 
slowly but surely, and partial legal alleviations were granted 
by the Government or wrested from it by the force of circum- 
stances. The barriers which had been erected for the Jews 
within the Pale itself were done away with. Thus the right of 
residence was extended to the cities of Nicholayev and Sevasto- 
pol, which, though geographically situated within the Pale, 
had been legally placed outside of it. The obstructions in the 
way of temporary visits to the holy city of Kiev were mitigated. 
The disgraceful old-time privilege of several cities, such as 
Zhitomir and Yilna, entitling them to exclude the Jews from 
certain streets, 1 was revoked. Moreover, by the law of 1862, 
the Jews were permitted to acquire land in the rural districts 
on those manorial estates in which after the liberation of the 
peasants the binding relation of the peasants to the landed 
proprietors had been completely discontinued. Unfortunately, 
what the Jews thus gained through the liberation of the peas- 

I 1 On the medieval privilege de non toJerandis JudaeU see 
vol. I, pp. 85 and 95.] 


ants, they lost to a large extent soon afterwards through the 
Polish insurrection of 1863, forfeiting the right of acquiring 
immovable property outside the cities in the greater part of 
the Pale. For in 1864, after quelling the Polish insurrection, 
the Government undert . :>k to Russify the Western region, and 
both Poles and Jews were strictly barred from acquiring 
estates in the nine governments forming the jurisdiction of 
the governors-general of Vilna and Kiev, 

The two other great reforms, that of rural self-government 
and the judiciary, were not stained by the ignominious label ' 
kromye Yevreyev, " excepting the Jews," so characteristic of / 
Russian legislation. The "Statute concerning Zemstvo Or-/ 
ganizations," * issued in 1864, makes no exceptions for Jews, 
and those among them with the necessary agrarian or com- 
mercial qualifications are granted the right of active and pas- 
sive suffrage within the scheme of provincial self-government. 
In fact, in the Southern governments the Jews began soon N » 
afterwards to participate in the rural assemblies, and were 
occasionally appointed to rural offices. Nor did the liberally 
conceived Judicial Regulations of 1864 * contain any important 
discriminations against Jews. Within a short time Jewish 
lawyers attained to prominence as members of the Russian 
bar, although their admission to the bench was limited to a 
few isolated cases. 

Little by little, another dismal spectre of the past, the mis- 
sionary activity of the Government, began to fade away. In the 
beginning of Alexander's reign, the conversion of Jews was 

[*A system of local self-government carried on by means of 
elective assemblies and its executive organs. There is an assembly 
for each district (or county) and another for each government} 

['Among other reforms they instituted the Russian bar as a 
separate organization.] 


still encouraged by the grant of monetary assistance to con* 
verts. The law of 1859 extended these stipends to persons em- 
bracing any other Christian persuasion outside of Greek 
Orthodoxy. But in 1864 the Government came to the con- 
clusion that it was not worth its while to reward deserters and 
began a new policy by discontinuing its allowances to con- 
verts serving in the army. A little later it repealed the law 
providing for a mitigation of sentence for criminal offenders 
who embrace Christianity during the inquiry or trial. 1 

In encouraging " the fusion of the Jews with the original 
population," the Government of Alexander II. had in mind 
civil and cultural fusion rather than religious assimilation, 
which even the inquisitorial contrivances of Nicholas* con- 
scription scheme had failed to accomplish. But as far as the- 
cultural fusion or, for short, the Bussification of the Jews was 
concerned, the Government even now occasionally indulged 
in practices which were borrowed from the antiquated system 
of enlightened absolutism. 

The official enlightenment, which had been introduced dur- 
ing the forties, was slow in taking root. The year 1848 wa& 
the first scholastic year in the two enlightenment nurseries,, 
the rabbinical schools of Vilna and Zhitomir. Beginning with, 
that year a number of elementary Crown schools for Jewish, 
children were opened in various cities of the Pale. The cruel 
persecutions of the outgoing regime affected the development 
of the schools in a twofold manner. On the one hand, the 
Jewish population could not help turning away with disgust 
from the gift of enlightenment which its persecutors held out 
to it. On the other hand, the horrors of conscription induced 
many a Jewish youth to seek, refuge in the new rabbinical 

[* See above, p. 45.] 


schools which saved their inmates from the soldier's uniform. 
Many a parent who regarded both the barracks and the Crown s 
schools as training grounds for converts preferred to send his . 
children to the latter, where, at least, they were spared the 
martyrdom of the barracks. The pupils of the rabbinical, 
schools came from the poorest classes, those that carried on 
their shoulders the whole weight of conscription. True, the 
distrustful attitude towards the official schools was gradually 
weakening as the new Government of Alexander II. was pass- 
ing from the former policy of oppression to that of reforms. 
By and by, the compulsory attendance at these schools became 
a voluntary one, prompted by the desire for general culture 
or for a special training as rabbi or teacher. Nevertheless 
the expectation of the Eussian Government under Nicholas I. 
that the new schools would take the place of the time-honored 
educational Jewish institutions, the heder and yeshibah, re- 
mained unfulfilled. Only an insignificant percentage of Jew- 
ish children went to the Crown schools, and even these children 
did so only after having received their training at the heder 
or yeshibah. 

Eealizing this, the Government decided to combat the tradi- 
tional school as the rival of the new. Immediately upon his v 
accession to the throne, Alexander confirmed the following ,' 
resolution adopted by the Jewish Committee on May 3, 1855 : ' > 
"After the lapse of twenty years no one shall be appointed 
rabbi or teacher of Jewish subjects, except graduates of the 
rabbinical schools 1 or of the general educational establish- 
ments of a higher or secondary grade." 

Having fixed a' term of twenty years for abolishing the 
institution of melammeds and religious leaders, the product 

[* I. e. t the Government training schools for rabbis provided by 
the ukase of 1844. See the preceding page.] 



of thousands of years of development, the Government fre- 
quently brandished this Damocles sword over their heads. In 
1856 a strict supervision was established over heders and 
melammeds. A year later the Jewish communities were in* 
structed to elect henceforward as u official rabbis " * only gradu- 
ates of the rabbinical Crown schools or of secular educational 
establishments, and, in default of such, to invite educated Jews 
from Germany. But all these regulations proved of no avail, 
and in 1859 a new ukase became necessary, which loosened the 
official grip over the heders, but made it at the same time 
obligatory upon the children of Jewish merchants to attend 
the general Russian schools or the Jewish Grown schools. 

The enforcement of school attendance would scarcely have 
produced the desired effect — the orthodox managed somehow 
to give the slip to " Russian learning " — were it not for the 
fact that under the influence of the inner cultural transforma- 
tion of Russian Jewry the general Russian school became 
during that period more and more popular among the advanced 
classes of the Jewish population, and gymnazium and university 
took their place alongside of heder and yeshibah. Yet the 
hundreds of pupils in the new schools faded into insignificance 
when compared with the hundreds of thousands who were edu- 
cated exclusively in the old schools. The fatal year 1875, the 
last of the twenty years of respite granted to the melammeds 
for their self-annihilation, arrived. But the huge melammed 
army was not willing to pass out of Jewish life, in which they 
exercised a definite function, with no substitute to take its 

I 1 Grown (in Russian kazyonny) rabbis in Russia are those that 
discharge the civil functions connected with their office, in dis- 
tinction from the "spiritual" or ecclesiastic rabbis who are in 
charge of the purely religious affairs of the community. This divi- 
sion hag survived in Russia until to-day.] 


place. The Government was forced to yield. After several 
brief postponements the melammeds were left in peace, and 
by an ukase issued in 1879 the idea of abolishing the heders 
was dropped. 

Towards the end of this period the Government abandoned 
altogether its attempts to reform the Jewish schools, and de- 
cided to liquidate its former activity in this direction. By </ 
an ukase issued in 1873 the two rabbinical schools and all 
Jewish Grown schools were closed. On the ruins of the vast 
educational network, originally projected for the transforma- 
tion of Judaism, only about a hundred " elementary schools " 
and two modest " Teachers Institutes/' * which were to supply 
teachers for these schools, were established by the Government. 
The authorities were now inclined to look upon the general 
Russian schools as the most effective agencies of "fusion," 
and put their greatest trust in the elemental process of Bussi- 
fication which had begun to sweep over the upper layers of 

5. The Jews and the Polish Instjmmotion op 1863 

While the official world of St. Petersburg was obsessed with 
the idea of the Bussification of Jewry, in Warsaw the tendency 
of Polonization, as applied to the Jews of the Western region, 
cropped up in the wake of the revolutionary Polish movement 
in the beginning of the sixties. At the inception of Alex- 
ander's reign the Russian Government set out to equalize the 
legal status of the Jews in the Kingdom of Poland with that 
of the Empire, and to abolish the surviving special restrictions, 

[* In Vilna and Zhitomir. The latter was closed in 18S5. The 
former Is still in existence.] 



such as the prohibition of residing in certain towns, or in 
certain parts of towns, disabilities in acquiring property, and 
others. But the highest Polish administration in Warsaw 
was obstructing in every possible way the liberal attempts of 
the Bussian Government. Prior to the insurrection of 1863, 
the attitude of Polish society towards the Jews was one of 
habitual animosity, and this notwithstanding the fact that by 
that time Warsaw harbored already a group of Jewish intel- 
lectuals who were eager to assimilate with the Poles and were 
imbued with Polish patriotism. When, in 1859, the Warsaw 
Gazette published an anti-Semitic article in which the Jews 
were branded as foreigners, the Polish-Jewish patriots, in- 
cluding the banker Kronenberg, a convert, were stung to the 
quick, and they came forward with violent protests. This led 
to passionate debates in the Polish press, generally unfriendly 
to the Jews. The radical Polish organs, published abroad by 
political exiles, took occasion to denounce bitterly the anti- 
Semitic trend of Polish society. The veteran historian Lele- 
vel, who had not yet forgotten Poland's historic injustice of 
1831/ issued a pamphlet in Brussels, calling upon the Poles 
to live in harmony with the race with which it had existed 
side by side for eight hundred years. 

LelevePs kindly words would scarcely have brought the anti- 
Semites to reason, had not the Poles at that moment embarked 
upon an enterprise for the success of which they sorely needed 
the sympathy and co-operation of their Jewish neighbors. 
The revolutionary movement which engulfed Bussian Poland 
in 1860-1863 required the utmost exertion of effort on the part 
of the entire population, in which the half -million Jews played 
no small part. All of a sudden Polish society opened its arms 

1 See above, p. 105. 



to those whom it had but recently branded as foreigners, and 
out of the ranks of Warsaw Jewry came a hearty response, ex- 
pressing itself not only in patriotic manifestations but also 
in sacrifices and achievements for the sake of the common 

At the head of the Warsaw community during this stormy 
period stood a man who combined Polish patriotism with 
rabbinic orthodoxy. Formerly rabbi in Cracow, Berush 1 
Meisels had as far back as 1848 been sent as deputy to the 
parliament at Kremsier/ and stood in the forefront of the 
Polish patriots of Oalicia. In 1856 he accepted the post of 
rabbi in Warsaw. When the revolutionary movement had 
broken out, Meisels endeavored to instruct his flock in the spirit 
of Polish patriotism. Bevered by the Jewish masses for his 
piety, and by the intellectuals for his political trend of mind, 
this spiritual leader of Polish Jewry played in the revolutionary 
Polish movement a r61e equal in importance to that of the 
leading ecclesiastics of Poland. The harmonious co-operation 
of the orthodox Chief Babbi Meisels, the reform preacher 
Marcus Jastrow/ and the lay representatives of the community 
lent unity and organization to the part played by the Jews in 
preparing the rebellion. 

The Jews of Warsaw participated in all street manifesta- 
tions and political processions which took place during the 
year 1860-1861. Among those pierced by Cossack bullets 
during the manifestation of February 27, 1861, were several 

[* A variant of the name Boer.] 

I* A town in Moravia, where, after the rising of 1848, the Aus- 
trian parliament met provisionally till March, 1849.] 

• After the suppression of the Polish insurrection, Jastrow 
went to the United States, and became a leading rabbi in Phila- 
delphia. [He died in 1903.] 


Jews. The indignation which this shooting down of defence- 
less people aroused in Warsaw is generally regarded as the 
immediate cause of the mutiny. Babbi Heisels was a member 
of the deputation which went to Viceroy Qorchakov to 
demand satisfaction for the blood that had been spilled. In 
the demonstrative funeral procession which followed the coffins 
of the victims the Jewish clergy, headed by Meisels, marched 
alongside of the Catholic priesthood. Many Jews attended the 
memorial services in the Catholic churches at which fiery 
patriotic speeches were delivered. Similar demonstrations of 
mourning were held in the synagogues. An appeal sent out 
broadcast by the circle of patriotic Jewish Poles reminded the 
Jews of the anti-Jewish hatred of the Russian bureaucracy, 
and called upon them S€ to clasp joyfully the brotherly hand 
held forth by them (the Poles), to place themselves under the 
banner of the nation whose ministers of religion have in all 
churches spoken of us in words of love and brotherhood." 

The whole year 1861 stood, at least as far as the Polish 
capital was concerned, under the sign of Polish-Jewish 
u brotherhood." At the synagogue service held in memory of 
the historian Lelevel Jastrow preached a patriotic sermon. 
On the day of the Jewish New Year prayers were offered up 
in the synagogues for the success of the Polish cause, accom- 
panied by the singing of the national Polish hymn Boze cos 
PolsJee? When, as a protest against the invasion of the 
churches by the Bussian soldiery, the Catholic clergy closed 
all churches in Warsaw, the rabbis and communal elders 
followed suit, and ordered the closing of the synagogues. This 

[ a Pronounce, Bozhe, tzosh PoUJut, " O Lord, Thou that hast for 
so many ages guarded Poland with the shining shield of Thy 
protection! " — the first words of the hymn.] 


action aroused the ire of Lieders, the new viceroy. Babbi 
Meisels, the preachers Jastrow and Kramshtyk as well as the 
president of the " Congregational Board " were placed under 
arrest. The prisoners were kept in the citadel of Warsaw for 
three months, but were then released. 

In the meantime Marquis Vyelepolski, acting as mediator 
between the Bussian Government and the Polish people, had 
prepared his plan of reforms as a means of warding off the 
mutiny. Among these reforms, which aimed at the partial 
restoration of Polish autonomy and the improvement of 
the status of the peasantry, was included a law providing 
for the " legal equality of the Jews." Wielding considerable 
influence, first as director of the Polish Commission of Ecclesi- 
astical Affairs and Public Instruction, and later as the head 
of the whole civil administration of the Kingdom, Vyelepolski 
was able to secure St. Petersburg's assent to his project. On 
May 24, 1862, Alexander II. signed an ukase revoking the 
suspensory decree of 1808,* which had entailed numerous 
disabilities for the Jews incompatible with the new tendencies 
in the political and agrarian life of the Kingdom. This ukase 
conferred the following rights upon the Jews : 

1. To acquire immovable property on all manorial estates on 
which the peasants had passed from the state of serfs into that 
of tenants. 

2. To settle freely in the formerly prohibited cities and city 
districts/ not excluding those situated within the twenty-one 
verst zone along the Prussian and Austrian frontier. 9 

3. To appear as witnesses in court on an equal footing with 
Christians in all legal proceedings and to take an oath in a new, 
less humiliating form. 

[ x See vol. I, p. 299.] 

1 See above, pp. 172 and 178. 

f » See above, p. 95.] 


Bestowing these privileges upon the Polish Jews in the 
hope of bringing about their amalgamation with the local 
Christian population, the Tzar forbids in the same ukase the 
further use of Hebrew and Yiddish in all civil affairs and legal 
documents, such as contracts, wills, obligations, also in com- 
mercial ledgers and even in business correspondence. In con- 
clusion, the ukase directs the Administrative Council of the 
Kingdom of Poland to revise and eventually to repeal all the 
other laws which hamper the Jews in their pursuit of crafts 
and industries by imposing special taxes upon them. 

This ukase of Alexander II., though revoking only part of 
the insulting restrictions in the elementary civil rights of the 
Jews, was given the high-sounding title of an " Act of Eman- 
cipation." The secluded hasidic mass of Poland was glad 
to accept the legal alleviations offered to it, without thinking 
of any linguistic or other kind of assimilation. On the other 
hand, the assimilated Jewish inteUigenzia, which had joined 
the ranks of the Polish insurgents, was dreaming of complete 
emancipation, and confidently hoped to attain it upon the suc- 
cessful termination of the revolutionary enterprise. 

In the meantime the revolution was assuming ever larger 
proportions. The year 1863 arrived. The demonstrations 
on the streets of Warsaw were succeeded by bloody skirmishes 
between the Polish insurgents and the Russian troops in +he 
woods of Poland and Lithuania. The Jews took no active part 
in this phase of the rebellion. As far as Poland proper was 
concerned, their participation was limited to the secret revolu- 
tionary propaganda. In Lithuania again neither the Jewish 
masses nor the newly arisen class of intellectuals sympathized 
with the Polish cause. In that part of the country the sys- 
tematic Jew-baiting of the Polish pans, or noble landowners, 


was still fresh in the minds, and the Jews, moreover, were 
panning all their faith to the emancipation to be bestowed 
; by St Petersburg. The will o* the wisp of Eussification had 

i already begun to lure the Jewish professional class. In 

J many Lithuanian localities the Jews who failed to show 

their sympathy with the Polish revolutionaries ran the risk 
of being dealt with severely. Here and there, as had been 
the case in 1831, the rebels were as good as their word, and 
» hanged or shot the Jews suspected of pro-Bussian sympathies. 

The reserved attitude of the Lithuanian Jews throughout 
the mutiny proved their salvation after the suppression of the 
rebellion, when the ferocious Muravyov, the governor-general 
of Vilna, took up his bloody work of retribution. As for the 
Kingdom of Poland, neither the revolution nor its suppression 
I entailed any serious consequences for them. True, the fra- 

ternization of the Warsaw Jews with the Poles during the 
revolutionary years weakened for a little while the hereditary 
Jew-hatred of the Polish people, and helped to intensify the 
fever of Polonization which had seized the Jewish upper 
classes. But indirectly the effects of the Polish rebellion 
were detrimental to the Jews of the rest of the Empire. The 
f insurrection was not only followed by a general wave of polit- 

ical reaction, but it also gave a strong impetus to the policy 
of Eussification which was now applied with particular vigor 
to the Western provinces, and was damaging to the Jews 
both from the civil and the cultural point of view. 



1. Changs of Attitude Towaed thb Jewish Problem 

The decided drift toward political reaction in the second part 
of Alexander's reign affected also the specific Jewish problem, 
which the homoeopathic reforms, designed to €( ameliorate n a 
fraction of the Jewish people, had tried to solve in vain. The 
general reaction showed itself in the fact that, after having 
carried out the first great reforms, such as the liberation of the 
peasantry, the introduction of rural self-government and the 
reorganization of the administration of the law, the Govern- 
ment considered the task of Russian regeneration to be com- 
pleted, and stubbornly refused, to use the expression current 
at the time, " to crown the edifice " by the one great political 
reform, the grant of a constitution and political liberty. This 
refusal widened the breach between the Government and the 
progressive element of the Russian people, whose hopes were 
riveted on the ultimate goal of political reorganization. The 
striving for liberty, driven under ground by police and censor- 
, ship, assumed among the Russian youth the character of a revo- 
lutionary movement. And when the murderous hand of the 
" Third Section " * descended heavily upon the champions of 
liberty, the youthful revolutionaries retorted with political ter- 
rorism which darkened the last days of Alexander II. and led 
to his assassination. 
^ The complete emancipation of the Jews was out of place 
in this atmosphere of growing official reaction. The same 

[ x See above, p. 21, n. L] 



bureaucracy which halted the march of the " great reforms " 
for the country at large was not inclined to allow even minor 
reforms when affecting the Jews only. Even the former 
desire for a " graded " and partial amelioration of the position 
of the Jews had vanished. Instead, the center of the stage was 
again occupied by the old red-tape activities, by discussions 
about the Jewish question — endless no less than fruitless — in 
the recesses of bureaucratic committees and sub-committees, by 
oracular animadversions of governors and governors-general 
upon the conduct of the Jews, and so on. Theory-mongering of 
the reactionary variety was again at a premium. Once more 
the authorities debated the question whether the Jews were 
to be regarded as useful or harmful to the State, instead of 
putting the diametrically opposite question of simple justice : 
whether the State which i& called upon to serve the Jews as 
part of the civic organism of Russia is useful to them to an 
extent which may be lawfully claimed by them. ' 

Under Nicholas I. the Government chancelleries had been 
busy inventing new remedies against the " separatism " of the 
Jews and their " harmful pursuits/' During the first liberal 
years of Alexander's reign commerce ceased to be branded 
as " a harmful pursuit." Yet as soon as the Jewish merchants, 
stimulated by the partial extension of their right of residence 
and occupation} displayed a wider economic activity and 
became successful competitors of the " original " Russian bus- 
iness men, they were met with shouts of protest demanding 
that this Jewish " exploitation " be effectively " curbed." 

In this connection it must be pointed out that the economic 
advancement of the Jews was not altogether due to the privi- 
leges accorded to them by the Russian legislation, but was 
rather the effect of general economic conditions. The great 


progress in industrial life during " the era of reforms," more 
particularly the expansion of railroad enterprises during the 
sixties and seventies, opened up a wide field for the energies 
of Jewish capitalists. Moreover, the abolition, in 1861, of the *? 
old system of farming out the sale of liquor transferred a part 
of the big Jewish capital from the liquor traffic into railroad 
building. The Jewish " excise farmers " * were converted into 
railroad men, as shareholders, supply merchants, or con- 
tractors. A new Jewish plutocracy came into being, and its 
growth excited jealousy and fear among the Bussian mercan- 
tile class. The Government, filled with enthusiasm for the 
cultivation of large industries, was not as yet prepared to 
discriminate against the Jews whenever big capital was con- 
cerned. But it lent an attentive ear to the "original" 
Bussian merchants whenever they complained about Jewish 
competition in petty trade, on which the lower Jewish classes 
depended for their livelihood. The Government, which had 
not yet emancipated itself from the habit of " assorting " its 
citizens and dividing them into a protected and a tolerated 
class, set out to elaborate measures for " curbing " the Jews 
belonging to the latter category. 

The question which confronted the Government next was 
this: to what extent have the hopes for a fusion of the Jews^ 
with the original population been justified by the events ?~j 
Here, too, the reply was unsatisfactory. The naive expectation 
that a few gratuities offered to the Jews in the shape of privi- 
leges would fill them with the eager desire to " fuse " with the 
Bussians did not come true. Strong as was the trend towards 

[*I. e^ those that leased from the Government the collection of 
excise on liquor. They were designated as aktetitnik*, from 
aktei*, the Russian word for " excise."] 


Bonification in the new Jewish intelligenzia of the sixties, 
the broad masses of Jewry knew nothing of such a tendency. ; 
The authorities became suspicions: what if these crafty 
Hebrews should fool us again and refuse to pay for the 
donated rights by fusing with the Christians? Bussian offi- 
cialdom received new food for reflection which was to last 
it for years, nay, for decades. 

2. The Informer Jacob Brafman 

Several occurrences were instrumental in determining the 
Government to embark upon a new policy, that of investigating 
assiduously the inner life of the Jews. At the end of the six- 
ties a man appeared in Yilna who offered his services to the 
authorities as a detective and spy among the Jews. Jacob 
Brafman, a native of the government of Minsk, had deserted 
his race and religion in the last years of Nicholas' conscription, 
hoping thereby to escape the nets of the vigilant Kahal " cap- 
tors " who wished to draft him into the army. Embittered 
against the Kahal agents who had become mere police tools, 
Brafman desired to wreak vengeance upon the Kahal as a 
whole, nay, upon the very idea of a Jewish communal organi- 

When the " fusion," or assimilation, of the Jews became the 
watchword of the highest official circles, the astute convert 
found that he could make his way by exposing the influences 
which in his opinion checked the endeavors of the Government. 
A memorandum presented by him to Alexander II., when the 
latter was passing through Minsk in 1858, opened to him the 
doors of the Holy Synod. He was appointed instructor of 
Hebrew at a Greek-Orthodox seminary and entrusted with the 
task of finding Ways to remove the difficulties placed by the 


Jews in the path of their coreligionists intending to go over 
to Christianity. His mission to facilitate apostasy among the 
Jews proved a failure, and his services as detective were not 
yet appreciated during the liberal years of Alexander's reign. 
However, with the reactionary turn in Russian politics, in 
the middle of the sixties, these services were once more in 
demand. Brafman hastened to the hot-bed of reactionary 
chauvinism, the city of Vilna, which was firmly held in the 
iron grip of Muravyov, 1 and there began " to expose the separa- 
tism of the inner life of the Jews " before the highest adminis- 
tration of the province. He contended that the Kahal, though 
officially abolished in 1844/ continued in reality to exist and 
to maintain a widely ramified judiciary (Bet Din), that it 
constituted a secret, uncanny sort of organization which 
wielded despotic power over the communities by employing 
such weapons as the herem (excommunication) and hazakah 
(the Jewish legal practice of securing property rights),* that 
it incited the Jewish masses against the State, the Government, 
and the Christian religion, and fostered in these masses fanati- 
cism and dangerous national separatism. In the opinion of 
Brafman, the only way to eradicate this " secret Jewish govern- 
ment," was to destroy the last vestiges of Jewish communal 
autonomy by closing all religious and charitable societies and 
fraternities. The Jewish community itself ought to share the 

[* Michael Muravyov (see above, p. 183) was appointed in 1863 
military governor of the governments of Vilna, Kovno, Grodno, 
Vitebsk, Minsk, and Moghilev, which he endeavored to Russify 
with relentless cruelty. He died in 1866.] 

[■ See p. 69 et seq.] 

['More exactly, the acquisition of property by continued and 
undisturbed possession for a period of time. This right of acquisi- 
tion was formerly granted by the Kahal on the payment of a 
certain tax; see voL I, p. 190.] 




same f ate^ and the Jews forming part of it should be included 
among thie Christian estates in the cities and Tillages. In a 
word, Judaism as a communal organization should pass out 
of existence altogether. 

The heiids of the Bussian administration in Lithuania 
listened eagerly to the sinister revelations of the new Pf effer- 
korn. 1 In 1866 Governor-General Kauffmann appointed a 
commission; which also included a few Jewish experts, to look 
into the material compiled by Brafman. This material con- 
sisted of the minutes of the Kahal of Minsk from the first half 
of the nineteenth century, recording the entirely legitimate 
enactments which the communal administration had passed by 
virtue of the autonomous rights granted to it by the Govern- 
ment. Brafman published his material in a series of articles 
in the official organ of the province, the Vilenski Vyestnik, 
"The Vilna Herald "; the articles were later republished in 
a separate volume, under the title Kniga Kahala, " The Book 
of the Kahal." " The data collected by Brafman were embel- 
lished with the customary anti-Semitic quotations from tal- 
mudic and rabbinic literature, and put in such a light that 
the Government was placed on the horns of a dilemma : either 
to destroy with one stroke the entire Jewish communal organi- 
zation and all the cultural agencies attached to it, or to run the 
risk of seeing Russia captured by the "Universal Kahal." 
It may be added that the Alliance Israelite Utwverselle, which 
had shortly before been founded in Paris for the purpose of 
assisting Jews in various countries, figured in Brafman's indict- 
ment as a constituent society of the universal Jewish Kahal 

PA medieval convert (died ab. 1521) who wrote against Juda- 
ism, especially the Talmud.] 
* The first edition appeared in 1869, the second in 1871. 


The "Book of the Kahal" was printed at public! expense 
and sent out to all Government offices to serve as a guide for 
Bussian officials and enable them to fight the " inner/enemy/ 9 
It was in vain that Brafman's ignorance of rabbinic! lore and 
his entire distortion of the role played by the Kah^fl in days 
gone-by was exposed by Jewish writers in articles aind mono- 
graphs; it was in vain that the Jewish members oi the com- 
mission appointed by the governor-general of Vilqja protested 
against the barbarous proposals of the informer, ^the authori- 
ties of St. Petersburg seized upon Brafman's discoveries as 
incontrovertible evidence of the existence of Jewish separatism 
and as a justification for the method of " cautiousness " which 
they saw fit to apply to the solution of the Jewish problem. 

3. Thb Fight Against Jewish " Separatism » 

Another incident which took place about the same time 
served in the eyes of the leading Government circles as an addi- 
tional illustration of Jewish separatism. In 1870 Alexander 
II. was on a visit to the "Kingdom of Poland, and there beheld 
the sight of dense masses of Hasidim with their long earlocks 
and flowing coats. The Tzar, repelled by this spectacle, en- 
joined upon the Polish governors strictly to enforce in their 
domains the old Bussian law prohibiting the Jewish form of 
dress. 1 Thereupon the administration of the Kingdom threw 
itself with special zest upon the important task of eradicating 
" the ugly costumes and earlocks " of the Hasidim. 

Shortly afterwards the question of Jewish separatism was 
the subject of discussion before the Council of State.' Under 
the unmistakable influence of the recent revelations of Braf- 
man, the Council of State arrived at the conclusion that " the 
prohibition of external differences in dress is yet far from. 

[* See above, p. 144.] 


leading to the goal pursued by the Government, viz., to destroy 
the exclusiveness of the Jews and the almost hostile attitude 
of the Jewish communities towards Christians, these commu- 
nities forming in our land a secluded religious and civil caste 
or, one might say, a state in a state." Hence the Council 
proposed to entrust a special commission with the task "of 
considering ways and means to weaken as far as possible the 
communal cohesion among the Jews " (December, 1870) . As 
a result, a commission of the kind suggested by the Council 
was established in 1871, consisting of the representatives of 
the various ministries and presided over by the Assistant- 
Minister of the Interior, Lobanov-Bostovski. The Commission 
received the name " Commission for the Amelioration of the 
Condition of the Jews." * 

While the Government was again engaged in one of its 
numerous experiments over the problem of Jewish separatism, 
an event, unusual in those days, took place: the Odessa po- 
grom ' of 1871. In this granary of the South, which owed its 
flourishing commerce to Jews and Greeks, an unfriendly feeling 
had sprung up between these two nationalities, which com- 
peted with one another in the corn trade and in the grocery 
business. This competition, though of great benefit to the con- 
sumers, was a thorn in the flesh of the Greek merchants. Time 
and again the Greeks would scare the Jews during the Christian 
Passover by their barbarous custom of discharging pistols in 
front of their church, which was situated in the heart of the 
Jewish district. But in 1871, with the approach of the 
Christian Passover, the Greeks proceeded to organize a regular 

[* Compare above, pp. 161 and 169.] 

[* Pogrom, with the accent on the last syllable, signifies ruin, 
devastation, and was originally applied to the ravages of an Invad- 
ing army.] 


To arouse the mob the Greeks spread the rumor that the 
Jews had stolen a cross from the church fence and had thrown 
stones at the church building. The pogrom began on Palm 
Sunday (March 28). The Jews were maltreated, and their 
houses and shops were sacked and looted. Having started in 
the immediate vicinity of the church, the riot spread to the 
neighboring streets and finally engulfed the whole city. For 
three days hordes of Greeks and Bussians gave free vent to 
their mob instincts, demolishing, burning, and robbing Jewish 
property, desecrating synagogues and beating Jews to sense- 
lessness in all parts of the city, undisturbed by the presence of 
police and troops who did nothing to stop the atrocities. The 
appeal of representative Odessa Jews to Governor-General 
Kotzebue was met by the retort that the Jews themselves were 
to blame, " having started first," and that the necessary 
measures for restoring order had been adopted. The latter 
assertion proved to be false, for on the following day the 
pogrom was renewed with even greater vigor. 

Only on the fourth day, when thousands of houses and shops 
had already been destroyed, and the rioters, intoxicated with 
their success, threatened to start a regular massacre, the au- 
thorities decided to step in and to " pacify " the riff-raff by a 
rather quaint method. Soldiers were posted on the market 
place with wagon-loads of rods, and the rioters, caught red- 
handed, were given a public whipping qn the spot. The 
" fatherly " punishment inflicted by the local authorities upon 
their " naughty " children sufficed to put a stop to the pogrom. 

As for the central Government in St. Petersburg, the only 
thing it wanted to know was whether the pogrom had any 
connection with the secret revolutionary propaganda which, 
beginning with the Jews, might next set the mob against the 


nobility and Kussian bourgeoisie. Since the official inquiry 
failed to reveal any political motives behind the Odessa riots, 
the St. Petersburg authorities were set at ease, and were only 
too glad to take the word of the satraps of the Pale who reported 
that the anti-Jewish movement had started as " a crude protect 
of the masses against the failure to solve the Jewish question " 
— viz., to solve it in a reactionary spirit — and as a manifesta- 
tion of the popular resentment against Jewish exploitation. 

The old charge of separatism against the Jews thus found a / 
companion in a new accusation: their economic "exploita- 
tion " of the Christian population of the Pale. The Committee 
appointed at the recommendation of the Council of State was 
enjoined to conduct a strict inquiry into both these " charges;*' 
Concretely the work of the Committee reduced itself to a con- 
sideration of two questions, one relating to the Kahal, or " the 
amelioration of the spiritual life of the Jews," and the other 
referring to the feasibility of thinning out the Pale of Settle- 
ment with the end in view of weakening the economic com- 
petition of the Jews. 

The material bearing on these questions included, apart 
from Braf man's " standard work/' a " Memorandum con- 
cerning the more important Administrative Problems in the 
South-west," which had been submitted in 1871 by the gov- 
ernor-general of Kiev, Dondukov-Korsakov, to the Tzar. The 
author of the memorandum voices his conviction that "the 
principal endeavors of the Government must be concentrated 
upon the Jewish question." The Jews are becoming a great 
economic power in the South-western provinces. They pur- 
chase or mortgage estates, and obtain control of the factories 
and mills as well as of the grain, timber, and liquor trade, 
thereby arousing the bitter resentment of the Christian popula- 



tion, particularly in the rural districts. 1 Moreover, the Jewish 
masses, refusing to follow the lead of the handful of Russified 
Jewish intellectuals, live entirely apart and remain in the 
throes of talmudic fanaticism and hasidic obscurantism. They 
" possess complete self-government in their Kahals, their own 
system of finance in the basket tax, their separate charitable 
institutions," their own traditional school in the heders, of 
which there are in the South-west no less than six thousand. 
In addition, the Jews possess an international organization, 
the " World Kahal," represented by the Alliance Israelite TJni- 
verselle in Paris, whose president, Adolph Cremieux, had had 
the audacity to protest to the Russian Government against acts 
of violence perpetrated upon the Jews. For all these reasons 
the governor-general is of the opinion that " the revision of 
the whole legislation affecting the Jews has become an im- 
perative necessity ." 

A similar tone was adopted in the other official documents 
which came into the hands of the " Committee for the Amelior- 
ation of the Condition of the Jews." The communications of 
the governors and the reports of the members of the Committee 
were all animated by the same spirit, the spirit that spoke 
through Brafman's " Book of the Kahal." This was but natu- 
ral. The officials, to whom this book had been sent by the cen- 
tral Government "for guidance," drew from it their whole 
political wisdom in things Jewish, and in their replies en- 

1 According to the official figures, quoted in the memorandum, 
the number of Jews in the three South-western governments, i. e. 9 
Volhynia, Podolia, and the Kiev province, amounted to 721,000. 
Of these, 14 per cent lived in rural districts and 86 per cent in cities 
and towns. They owned 27 sugar refineries out of 105; 619 distil- 
leries out of 712; 5700 mills out of 6353; and so forth. The produc- 
tion of the industrial establishments in the hands of the Jews 
reached the sum of seventy million rubles. 


deavored to fall in with the instructions of the Council of 
State, conveyed to them by the Committee, via., " to consider 
ways and means to weaken the communal cohesion among the 

In the Kingdom of Poland the governors complained sim- 
ilarly in their reports that the Jews of the province, though 
accorded equal rights by Vyelepolski, 1 had not complied with 
the conditions attached to that act, to wit, " to abandon the 
use of their own language and script, in exchange for the favors 
bestowed upon them/ 9 Outside of a handful of assimilated 
u Poles of the Mosaic Persuasion/' who were imbued with 
Polish chauvinism,* the hasidic rank and file was permeated 
by extreme separatism, fostered by "the Kahal through its 
various agencies, the Congregational Boards, the rabbinate, 
the heders, and a host of special institutions." 

These and similar communications formed the ground- 
work of the reports, or, more correctly, the bills of indictment 
in which the members of the Committee charged the Jews with 
the terrible crime of constituting " a religio-political caste," 
in other words, a nationality. Following the lead of Braf man, 
the members of the Committee laid particular emphasis in 
their reports on the obnoxiousness of the Talmud and the 
danger of Jewish separatism. Needless to say, the conclusions 
offered by them were of the kind anticipated in the instructions 
of the Council of State : the necessity of wiping out the last 
vestiges of Jewish self-government, such as the Jewish com- 
munity, the school, the mutual relief societies, in a word, every- 
thing that tends to foster " the communal cohesion among the 

[* See above, p. 181.] 

["And hence objectionable from the Russian point of view.] 


The barbarism of these proposals was covered by the fig- 
leaf of enlightenment. When the benighted Jewish masses 
will hare fused with the highly cultured populace of Bussia, 
in other words, when the Jews will hare ceased to be Jews, 
then will the Jewish question find its solution. In the mean- 
time, however, the Jews are to be curbed by the bridle of dis- 
abilities. The referee of the Committee on the question of the 

/Pale of Settlement, Grigoryev, frankly stated: "What is 
important in this question is not whether the Jews will fare 
better when granted the right of residence all over the Empire, 
but rather the effect of this measure on the economic well- 
being of an enormous part of the Bussian people/ 9 From 
this point of view the referee finds that it would be dangerous 
to let the Jews pass beyond the Pale, since " the plague, which 
has thus far been restricted to the Western provinces, will then 
spread over the whole Empire." 

For a long time the Committee was at a deadlock, held 
down by bureaucratic reaction. It was only toward the end 
of its existence that the voice from another world, the post- 
humous voice of dead and buried liberalism, resounded in its 
midst. In 1880 the Committee was presented with a memo- 
randum by two of its members, Nekhludov and Karpov, in 

\ which the bold attempt was made to champion the heretic point 

of view of complete Jewish emancipation. The language of 

the memorandum was one which the Bussian Government had 

not heard for a long time. 

In the name of " morality and justice " the authors of the 

I memorandum call upon the Government to abandon its grossly 

; utilitarian attitude towards* the Jews who are to be denied 
civil rights so long as they do not prove useful to the " orig- 
inal " population. They expose the selfish motive underlying 


the bits of emancipation which had been doled out to the Jews 
during the preceding spell of liberalism: the desire, not to 
help the Jews, but to exploit their services. First-guild mer- 
chants, physicians, lawyers, artisans were admitted into the 
interior for the sole purpose of developing business in those 
places and filling the palpable shortage in artisans and pro- 
fessional men. "As soon as this or that category of Jews was 
found to be serviceable to the Russian people, it was relieved, 
and relieved only in part, from the pressure of exceptional 
laws, and received into the dominant population of the 
Empire." But the millions of plain Jews, abandoned by the 
upper classes, have continued to languish in the suffocating 
Pale. 1 The Jewish population is denied the elementary rights 
guaranteeing liberty of pursuit, freedom of movement and land 
ownership, such as only a criminal may be deprived of by a ver- 
dict of the courts. As it is, discontent is rife among these disin- 
herited masses. " The rising generation of Jews has already y/ 
begun to participate in the revolutionary movement to which 
they had hitherto been strangers." The system of oppression 
must be set aside. All the Jewish defects, their separatism and 
one-sided economic activity, are merely the fruits of this op- 

1 The narrow utilitarianism of the governmental policy In the 
Jewish question may also be illustrated by the official attitude 
towards the promotion of agriculture among the Jews. Under 
Alexander I. and Nicholas I. Jewish agricultural colonization in 
the South of Russia was encouraged by the grant of special privi- 
leges, though the Jewish settlers were subjected to the stern 
tutelage of bureaucratic inspectors. But under Alexander II., 
when Southern Russia was no longer in need of artificial coloni- 
zation, the Government discontinued its policy of promoting 
Jewish colonization, and an ukase issued in 1866 stopped the 
settlement of Jews in agricultural colonies altogether. A little 
latter the Jewish colonies in the South-west were deprived of a 
large part of their lands, which were distributed among the 


pression. Where the law has no confidence in the population, 
there inevitably the population has no confidence in the law, 
and it naturally becomes an enemy of the existing order of 
things. " Human reason does not admit of any considerations 
which might justify the placing of many millions of the Jewish 
population on a level with criminal offenders." The first step 
in the direction of complete emancipation ought to be the 
immediate grant of the right of domicile all over the Empire. 
These bold words which turned the Jews from defendants 
into plaintiffs ran counter to the fundamental task of the Com- 
mittee, which, according to the original instructions received 
by it, was expected to draft its plans in a spirit of reaction. 
At any rate, these words were uttered too late. A new era was 
approaching which in solving the Jewish question resorted 
to methods such as would have horrified even the conservative 
statesmen of the seventies : the era of pogroms and cruel disa- 

4. Thb Drept Towaed Oppression 

During the last decade of Alexander's reign, the machinery 
of Jewish legislation was working at a slow rate, pending the 
full " revision " of Jewish rights. Yet the steps of the ap- 
proaching reaction could well be discerned. Thus in 1870, 
during the discussion of the draft of the new Municipal 
Statute by a special committee of the Ministry of the Interior, 
which included as " experts " the burgomasters of the most 
important Russian cities, the question arose whether the former 
limitation of the number of Jewish aldermen in the muni- 
cipal councils to one-third of the whole number of alder- 
men * should be upheld or not. The cities involved were those 
of the Pale where the Jews formed the majority of the popula- 

[*See above, p. 4L] 


tion, and the committee was searching for ways and means to 
weaken " the excessive influence " of this majority upon the 
city administration and to subordinate it to the Christian 

One solitary member, Novoselski, the burgomaster of Odessa, ^1 
advocated the repeal of the old restriction, with the one proviso 1 
that the Jewish aldermen should be required to possess certain 1 
educational qualifications, inasmuch as educated Jews were j 
" not quite as harmful " as uneducated ones. 

A minority of the members of the Committee favored the 
limitation of the number of Jewish aldermen to one-half, but 
the majority staunchly defended the old norm, which was one- 
third. The representatives of the majority, in particular Count 
Cherkaski, the burgomaster of Moscow, argued that the Jews 
constituted not only a religious but also a national entity, that 
they were still widely removed from assimilation or Bussifica- 
tion, that education, far from transforming the Jews into 
Bussians, made them only more successful in the struggle for 
existence, that it was inadvisable for this reason " to subject 
the whole Bussian element (of the population) to the risk of 
falling under the domination of Judaism/ 9 

The curious principle of municipal justice by virtue of which 
the majority of house owners and tax-payers were to be ruled 
by the representatives of the minority carried the day. The 
new Municipal Statute sanctioned the norm of one-third for 
" non-Christians/' and reaffirmed the ineligibility of Jews to 
the post of burgomaster. 

The law of 1874, establishing general military service and 
abolishing the former method of conscription, proved the first 
legal enactment which imposed upon the Jews equal obliga- 
tions with their fellow-citizens, prior to bestowing upon them 


equal rights. To be sure, the new regulation brought con- 
siderable relief to the Jews, inasmuch as the heavy burden 
of military duly which had formerly been borne entirely by the 
poor burgher class, 1 was now distributed oyer all estates, while 
the burden itself was lightened by the reduction of the term of 
service. Moreover, the former collective responsibility of the 
community for the supply of recruits, which had given rise to 
the institution of " captors " and many other evils, was replaced 
by the personal responsibility of every individual conscript. 
All this, however, was not sufficient to change suddenly the 
attitude of the Jewish populace towards military service. 

The f ornierly privileged merchantile class could not recon- 
cile itself easily to the idea of sending their children to the 
army. The horrors of the old conscription were still fresh in 
their minds, and even in its new setting military service was 
still suggestive of the hideous horrors of the past. Those who 
but yesterday had been dragged like criminals to the recruiting 
stations could not well be expected to change their sentiments 
over night and appear there of their own free will. The 
result was that a considerable number of Jews of military age 
(21) failed to obey the summons of the first conscription. 
Immediately the cry went up that the Jews evaded their mili- 
tary duty, and that the Christians were forced to make up the 
shortage. The official pens in St. Petersburg and in the pro- 
vincial chancelleries became busy scribbling. The Ministry 
of War demanded the adoption of Draconian measures to stop 
this " evasion." As a result, the whole Jewish youth of con- 
scription age was registered in 1875. At the recruiting stations 
the age of the young Jews was determined by their external 

I 1 On the "burghers" see vol. I, p. 308, n. 2. Concerning the 
military duty imposed on them see above, p. 23.] 


appearance, without regard to their birth certificates. Finally, 
in the course of 1876-1878, a number of special provisions were 
enacted, by way of exception from the general military statute, 
for the purpose " of insuring the regular discharge of their 
military duty by the Jews." 

According to the new legal provisions, the Jews who had 
been rejected as unfit for military service were to be replaced 
by other Jews and under no circumstances by Christians. For 
this purpose, the Jewish conscripts were to be segregated from 
the Christians after the drawing of lots, the first stage in the 
recruiting process. 1 Moreover, in the case of Jews a lower 
stature and a narrower chest were required than in that of 
non-Jews. In the case of a shortage of " unprivileged " re- 
cruits, permission was given to draft not only Jews enjoying, 
by their family status, the third and second class privileges, 
but also those of the first class, t. e., to deprive Jewish parents 
of their only sons.* 

In this manner the Government sought to " insure " with 
ruthless vigor the discharge of this most onerous duty on the 
part of the Jews, without making any attempt to insure at 

[* Since the number of men of military age greatly exceeds the 
required number of recruits, the Russian law provides that lots 
be drawn by the conscripts to determine the order in which they 
are to present themselves for examination to the recruiting offi- 
cers. When the quota is completed, the remaining conscripts, 
i. e., those who, having drawn a high number, have not yet been 
examined, are declared exempt from military service.] 

['According to Russian law, the following three categories of 
recruits are exempt from military service: 1) the only sons; 
2) the only wage-earning sons, though there be other sons in the 
family; 3) those who have an elder brother or brothers in the 
army. The first category is exempt under all circumstances; the 
last two on condition that the required number of recruits be 
secured out of the " unprivileged " conscripts. Only in the case 
of the Jews Is the first category drawn upon in the case of a 


the same time the rights of this population of three millions 
which was made to spill its blood for the fatherland. In the 
Russo-Turkish War of 1877, many Jewish soldiers fought for 
Russia, and a goodly number of them were killed or wounded on 
the battlefield. Yet in the Russian military headquarters — the 
post of commander-in-chief was occupied by the crown prince, 
the future Tzar Alexander III. — no attention was paid to 
the thousands of Jewish victims, but rather to the fact that the 
" Jewish " firm of army purveyors, Greger, Horvitz & Kohan * 
was found to have had a share in the commissariat scandals. 
When at the Congress of Berlin in 1878 a resolution was in- 
troduced calling upon the Governments of Soumania, Servia, 
and Bulgaria to accord equal rights to the Jews in their respec- 
tive dominions, and was warmly supported by all plenipoten- 
tiaries, such as Waddington, Beaconsfield, Bismarck, and 
others, the only one to oppose the emancipation of the Jews 
on principle was the Russian chancellor Gorchakov. In his 
desire to save the prestige of Russia, which herself had failed 
to grant equal rights to the Jews, the chancellor could not 
refrain from an anti-Semitic sally, remarking during the 
debate that " one ought not to confound the Jews of Berlin, 
Paris, London, and Vienna, who cannot be denied civil and 
political rights, with the Jews of Servia, Poumania, • d several 
Russian provinces, where they are a regular scourge to the 
native population." 

Altogether the growth of anti-Semitism in the Government 
circles and in certain layers of Russian society, towards the 
close of the seventies, became clearly pronounced. The laurels of 
Brafman, whose " exposure " of Judaism had netted him many 
personal benefits and profitable connections in the world of 

[* Greger was a Greek, and Horviti a converted Jew. See later, 
P. 244.] 


officialdom, were apt to stimulate all sorts of adventurers. 
In 1876 a new " exposer " of Judaism appeared on the scene, 
a man with a stained past, Hippolyte Lutostanski. He was 
originally a Roman Catholic priest in the government of 
Kovno. Having been unfrocked by the Catholic Consistory 
"on account of incredible acts of lawlessness and immoral 
conduct/' including libel, embezzlement, rape committed upon 
a Jewess, and similar heroic exploits, he joined the Greek- 
Orthodox church, entered the famous Troitza Monastery near 
Moscow as a monk, and was admitted as a student to the 
Ecclesiastical Academy of the same city. 

As a subject for his dissertation for the degree of Candidate 1 
the ignorant monk chose a sensational topic : " Concerning 
the Use of Christian Blood by the Jews." It was an unlettered 
and scurrilous pamphlet, in which the author, without indi- 
cating his sources, incorporated the contents of an official mem- 
orandum on the ritual murder legend from the time of Nicho- 
las I., supplementing it by distorted quotations from talmudic 
and rabbinic literature, without the slightest knowledge of 
that literature or the Hebrew language. 

The monastic adventurer, finding himself in financial straits, 
brought his manuscript to Babbi Minor of Moscow, declaring 
his willingness to forego the publication of his brochure, which 
no doubt would cause great harm to the Jews, for a considera- 
tion of 500 rubles ($250). His blackmail offer was rejected. 
Lutostanski thereupon published his hideous book in 1876, 
and travelled with it to St. Petersburg where he managed to 
present it to the crown prince, subsequently Alexander III., 
and to secure from him a grateful acknowledgement. The 

[* See above, p. 165, n. 1.] 


book also found the approval of the Chief of Gendarmerie/ 
who acquired a large number of copies and distributed them 
among the secret police all over Bussia. 

Encouraged by his success, Lutostanski issued a few years 
later, in 1879, another libellous work in two volumes, under 
the title " The Talmud and the Jews," which exhibits the same 
crudeness in style and content as his previous achievement 
— a typical specimen of a degraded back-yard literature. The 
editor of the Hebrew journal hdrMelitz, Alexander Zederbaum, 
demonstrated clearly that Lutostanski had forged his quota- 
tions, and summoned him to a public disputation, which offer 
was wisely declined. 

Nevertheless, the agitation of this shameless impostor had 
a considerable effect on the highest official spheres in which 
an ever stronger drift toward anti-Semitism was clearly notice- 
able. In 1878 this anti-Semitic trend gave rise to a new 
ritual murder trial. The discovery in the government of 
Kutais, in the Caucasus, of the body of a little Gruzinian 
girl, named Sarra Modebadze, who had disappeared on the eve 
of Passover, was deemed a sufficient reason by the judicial 
authorities to enter a charge of murder against ten local Jews, 
although the ritual character of the murder was not put for- 
ward openly in the indictment. The case was tried before 
the District Court of Kutais, and the counsel for the defence 
succeeded by their brilliant speeches not only to demolish com- 
pletely the whole structure of incriminating evidence but also 
to deal a death-blow to the sinister ritual legend. The case 
ended in 1879 with the acquittal of all the accused. 

Withal, the " ritual " agitation left a nasty sediment in the 
Russian press. When in 1879 the famous Orientalist Daniel 

[' See above, p. 21, n. 1.] 


Chwolson, a convert to Christianity and professor at the Greek- 
Orthodox Ecclesiastical Seminary of St Petersburg, who had 
written a learned apologetic treatise " Concerning the Medieval 
Accusations against the Zv*%? published a refutation of the 
ritual myth under the title "Do the Jews use Christian 
Blood ?," he was attacked in the Novoye Vremya by the liberal 
historian Kostomarov who attempted to disprove the conclu- 
sions of the defender of Judaism. The paper itself, hitherto 
liberal in its tendency, changed front about that time, and, 
steering its course by the prevailing moods in the leading 
Government circles, launched a systematic campaign against 
the Jews. The anti-Semitic bacilli were floating in the social 
atmosphere of Bussia and preparing the way for the pogrom 
epidemic of the following decade. 

(■ ■ 





1* The Russificatiow of thb Jbwish Istbuioshzia 

In the inner, cultural life of Russian Jewry a radical break 
took place during this period. True, the change did not affect 
the rank and file of Russian Jewry, being rather confined to 
its upper layers, to Jewish u society," or the so-called uUeUi- 
genzia. But as far as the latter circles are concerned, the 
rapidity and intensity of their spiritual transformation may 
well be compared with the stormy eve of Jewish emancipation 
in Germany. This wild rush for spiritual regeneration was out 
of all proportion to the snail-like tardiness and piecemeal 
character of civil emancipation in Russia. However, the 
modern history of Western Europe has shown more than once 
that such pre-emancipation periods, including those that evi- 
dently prove abortive, offer the most favorable conditions for all 
kinds of mental and cultural revolutions. Liberty as a hope 
invariably arouses greater enthusiasm for self-rejuvenation 
than liberty as a fact, when the romanticism of the unknown 
has vanished. 

Hurled into the abyss of despair by the last events of 
Nicholas* regime, the Russian Jews suddenly received what 
may be called an earnest of civil emancipation. The Jewish 
" Pale " knew but vaguely what was taking place in the re- 
cesses of the St. Petersburg chancelleries during the decade 
of reforms, but that a striking change in the attitude of the 
Government had taken place was seen and felt by all. Freedom 


had been granted to the victims of the military inquisition, 
the cantonists. The gates of the Bussian interior had been 
opened to Jews possessing certain qualifications with regard 
to property, education, or labor. The educated Jews, in par-\ 
ticular, were smiled upon benevolently " from above " : they I 
were regarded by the Government as a factor making for assimi- f 
lation and as a connecting link with the lower Jewish classes. 
The vernal sun of Bussian liberty, which flooded with its rays 
the social life of the whole country, just then emerging from 
serfdom, shone also for the hapless Jewish people, and filled 
their hearts with cheer and hope. The blasts of the reveille 
which had been sounded in the best circles of Bussian society 
by such humanitarians as Pirogov, 1 and such champions of 
liberty as Hertaen," Chernyshevski,* and Dobrolubov, 4 were 
carried through the air into the huge Jewish ghetto of Russia. 
True, the Jewish question received, during the decade of re- 
forms, but scanty attention in the Bussian press, but the little 
that was said about it was permeated by a friendly spirit. The 
former habit of making sport of the Zhyd was energetically 

This change of attitude may well be illustrated by the 
following incident. In 1858 the magazine Illustratzia (" Il- 
lustration") of St. Petersburg published an anti-Semitic 
article on u the Zhyds of the Bussian West." The article was 
answered by two cultured Jews, Chatzkin and Horvitz, in the 
influential periodicals Busski Vyestnik (" The Bussian Her- 

[* Nicholas Pirogov (1810-1881), famous as pedagogue and ad- 
ministrator. He was a staunch friend of the Jews, and waa 
deeply interested in their cultural aspirations.] 

[' See above, p. 24, n. 1.] 

['Famous publicist and author, died 1889.] 

[ 4 A famous literary critic, died 1861.] 


aid ") and Atyeney (* Athenaeum *) . In reply to this refuta- 
tion, the Illustratzia showered a torrent of abuse upon the 
two authors who were contemptuously styled " Eeb Chatzkin " 
and " Eeb Horvitz," and whose pro-Jewish attitude was ex- 
plained by motives of avarice. The action of the anti-Semitic 
journal aroused a storm of indignation in the literary circles 
of both capitals. The conduct of the Illustratzia was con- 
demned in a public protest which bore the signatures of 140 
writers, including some of the most illustrious names in the 
Bussian literary world. The protest declared that "in the 
persons of Horvitz and Chatzkin an insult has been offered to 
the entire (Bussian) people, to all Bussian literature/' which 
has no right to let " naked slander " pass under the disguise 
of polemics. 

Though the protesting writers were wholly actuated by the 
desire to protect the moral purity of Bussian literature and 
did not at all touch upon the Jewish question, the Jewish 
public workers were nevertheless enchanted by this declaration 
of literary Kussia, and were deeply gratified by the implied 
assumption that the Jews of Russia formed part of the Bussian 

( Several sympathetic articles in influential periodicals, ad- 
\ vocating the necessity of Jewish emancipation, seemed to com- 
y plete the happiness of the progressive section of Bussian 
> r Jewry. Even the Slavophile publicist Ivan Aksakov, who 
/subsequently joined the ranks of Jew-baiters, recognized at 
*• that time, in 1862, the need of a certain measure of emancipa- 
tion for the Jews. The only thing that worried him was the 
danger that the admission of the Jews to the Bussian civil 
service " in all departments/' might result " in filling with 
Jews " the Senate and Council of State, not excluding the 


possibility of a Jew occupying the port of Procurator-General 
of the Holy Synod. Unshakable in his friendship for the Jews 
was the physician and humanitarian N. PirogOY, 1 who, in his 
capacity of superintendent of the Odessa School District, was 
largely instrumental in encouraging the Jewish youth in their 
pursuit of general culture and in creating a Russian Jewish 

lite most efficient factor of cultural regeneration was the 
secular school, both the general Russian and the Jewish Crown 
school. A flood of young men, lured by the rosy prospects 
of a free human existence in the midst of a free Russian people, 
rushed from the farthermost nooks and corners of the Pale 
into the gymnasia and universities whose doors were kept 
wide open for the Jews. Many children of the ghetto rapidly 
enlisted under the banner of the Russian youth, and became 
intoxicated with the luxuriant growth of Russian literature 
which carried to them the intellectual gifts of the contem- 
porary European writers. The masters of thought in that 
generation, Chernyshevski, Dobrolubov, Pisaryev, Buckle, Dar- 
win, Spencer, became also the idols of the Jewish youth. The 
heads which had but recently been bending over the Talmud / 
folios in the stuffy atmosphere of the heders and yeshibahs 
were now crammed with the ideas of positivism, evolution, 
and socialism. Sharp and sudden was the transition from 
rabbinic scholasticism and soporific hasidic mysticism to this 
new world of ideas, flooded with the light of scienoe, to these 
new revelations announcing the glad tidings of the freedom of 
thought, of the demolition of all traditional fetters, of the 
annihilation of all religious and national barriers, of the 
brotherhood of all mankind. The Jewish youth began to 

[* Sqs above, p. 207, n. 1*1 


shatter the old idols, disregarding the outcry of the masses 
that had bowed down before them. A tragic war ensued be- 
tween " fathers and children/ 9 * a war of annihilation, for the 
belligerent parties were extreme obscurantism and fanaticism, 
on the one hand, and the negation of all historic forms of 
Judaism, both religious and national, on the other. 

In the middle between these two extremes stood the men of 
the transitional period, the adepts of Haskalah, those " lovers 
of enlightenment " who had in younger years suffered for their 
convictions at the hands of fanatics and now came forward 
to make peace between religion and c ultur e. Encouraged by 
the success of the new ideas, the Maskilim became more 
aggressive in their struggle with obscurantism. They ven- 
tured to expose the Tzaddiks who scattered the seeds of 
superstition, to ridicule the ignorance and credulity of the 
masses, and occasionally went so far as to complain of the bur- 
densome ceremonial discipline, hinting at the need of moderate 
religious reforms. Their principal task, however, was the 
cultivation of the Neo-Hebraic literary style and the rejuvena- 
tion of the content of that literature. They were willing to 
pursue the road of the emancipated Jewry of Western Europe, 
but only to a certain limit, refusing to cut themselves adrift 
from the national language or the religious and national ideals. 

On the other hand, that section of the young generation 
which had passed through a Russian school refused to recog- 
nize any such barriers, and rushed with elemental force on the 
road of self -annihilation. Russification became the war cry of 
: these Jewish circles, as it had long been the watchword of the 
' Government. The one side was anxious to Russify, the other 

[*The title of a famous novel by Turgenieff, written in 1S62, 
depicting the break between the old and the new generation.] 


was equally anxious to be Russified, and the natural result was 
an entente cordiale between the new Jewish intelligenzia and 
the Government. 

The ideal of Russification was marked by different stages, 
beginning with the harmless acquisition of the Russian lan- 
guage, and culminating in a complete identification with Rus- 
sian culture and Russian national ideals, involving the renun- 
ciation of the religious and national traditions of Judaism. 
The advocates of moderate Russification did not foresee that 
the latter was bound, by the force of circumstances, to assume 
a radical form, while the champions of extreme Russification 
saw no harm for Jewry in following the example of complete 
assimilation set by Western Europe. To the former all that 
Russification implied was the removal of the obnoxious excres- 
cences of Judaism but not the demolition of the national organ- 
ism itself. Progressive Jewry was rightly incensed against the 
obsolete forms of Jewish life which obstructed all healthy devel- 
opment; against the fierce superstition of the hasidic environ- 
ment, against the charlatanism of degenerating Tzaddikism, 
against the impenetrable religious fanaticism which was 
throttling the noblest strivings of the Jewish mind. But this 
struggle for freedom of thought should have been fought out 
within the confines of Judaism, by means of a thorough-going 
cultural self -improvement, and not on the soil of assimilation, 
nor in alliance with the powers that be, which were aiming not 
at the rejuvenation but at the obliteration of Judaism, in ac- 
cordance with the official program of " fusion." 

At any rate, the league between the new Jewish intelli- 
genzia and the Government was an undeniable fact The 
44 Crown rabbis " * and school teachers from among the gradu- 

[* Bee above, p. 176, n. L] 


ates of the rabbinical schools of Vilna and Zhitomir played 
the rdle of Government agents who were apt to resort to police 
force in their fight against orthodoxy. Feeling secure beneath 
the protecting wings of the Russian authorities, they often 
went out of their way to hurt the susceptibilities of the 
masses by their ostentations disregard of the Jewish religions 
ceremonies. When the communities refused to appoint rabbis 
of this class, the latter obtained their posts either $y direct ap- 
pointment from the Government or by bringing the pressure 
of the provincial administration to bear upon the electors. 

Needless to say, the " enlightenment " propagated by these 
Government underlings did not win the confidence of the 
orthodox masses who remembered vividly how official enlight- 
enment was disseminated by the Government of Nicholas I. 
during the era of juvenile conscription. 

The new Jewish irUelligeima showed utter indifference to 
the sentiments of the Jewish masses, and did not hesitate to 
induce the Government to interfere in the affairs of inner 
Jewish life. Thus by a regulation issued in 1864 all hasidic 
books were subjected to a most rigorous censorship, and Jewish 
printing-presses were placed under a more vigilant supervision 
than theretofore. The Tzaddiks were barred from visiting 
their parishes for the purpose of "working miracles* and 
" collecting tribute," a measure which only served to surround 
the hasidic chieftains with a halo of martyrdom and resulted in 
the pilgrimage of vast numbers of Hasidim to the "holy 
places/' the " capitals n of the Tzaddiks. All this only went 
4* to intensify the distrust of the masses toward the college-bred, 
officially hall-marked Jewish intellectuals and to lower their 
moral prestige, to the detriment of the cause of enlightenment 
of which they professed to be the missionaries. 


A peculiar variety of assimilationist tendencies sprang up 
among the upper class of Jews in the Kingdom of Poland, 
more especially in Warsaw. It was a most repellent variety of 
assimilation, exhibiting more flunkeyism than pursuit of cul- 
ture. The " Poles of the Mosaic Persuasion/ 1 as these assimi- 
lationists styled themselves, had long been begging for ad- 
mission into Polish society, though rudely repulsed by it. 
During the insurrection of 1861-1863, when they were gra- 
ciously received as useful allies, they were indefatigable in 
parading their Polish patriotism. In the Polish Jewish weekly, 
Jutrzenka, 1 " The Dawn," the organ of these assimilationists, 
the trite West-European theory, which looks upon Judaism as 
a religious sect and not as a national community, was repeated 
ad nauseam. One of the most prominent contributors to that 
journal, Ludwig Gumplovich, the author of a monograph on 
the history of the Jews in Poland, who subsequently made a 
name for himself as a sociologist, and, after his conversion to 
Christianity, received a professorship at an Austrian uni- 
Terrty, opLd his series of article, on Polish-Jewish history 
with the following observation : " The fact that the Jews had a 

history was their misfortune in Europe For their 

history inevitably presupposes an isolated life severed from that 
of the other nations. It is just this which constitutes the mis- 
fortune alluded to." 

After the insurrection, the Polonization of the Jewish popu- 
lation assumed menacing proportions. The upper layer of 
Palish Jewry consisted exclusively of "Poles of the Mosaic 
Persuasion* who rejected all elements of Jewish culture, 
while the broad masses, following blindly the mandates of their 
Twddiks, rejected fanatically even the most indispensable 

fP ronome e Y u Uh tn k*.] 


elements of European civilization. Riven between such mon- 
strous extremes, Polish Jewry was unable to attain even to a 
semblance of normal development. 

2. The Society poe the Diffusion of Enlightenment 

Though intensely engaged in this cultural movement, Bus- 
. sian Jewry did not yet command sufficient resources for carry- 
t ing on a well-ordered and well-systematized activity. The only 
i modern Jewish organization of that period was the " Society 
I for the Diffusion of Enlightenment amongst the Jews," 
I which had been founded in 1867 by a small coterie of Jewish 
financiers and intellectuals of St. Petersburg. It would seem 
that the Jewish colony of the Russian metropolis, consisting 
of big merchants and university graduates, who, by virtue of 
the laws of 1859 and 1861, enjoyed the right of residence out- 
side the Pale, did not yet contain a sufficient number of com- 
petent public workers. For during the first decade of the 
Society its Executive Committee included, apart from its 
Jewish founders — Baron Giinzburg, Leon Rosenthal, Rabbi 
Neuman — , two apostates, Professor Daniel Chwolson and the 
court physician, I. Berthenson. 

The purpose of the Society was explained by one of the 
founders, Leon Rosenthal, in the following unsophisticated 

We constantly hear men in high positions, with whom we come 
in contact, complain about the separatism and fanaticism of the 
Jews and about their aloofness from everything Russian, and we 
have received assurances on all hands that, with the removal of 
these peculiarities, the condition of our brethren in Russia wiU be 
improved, and we shall all become full-fledged citizens of this 
country. Actuated by this motive, we have organized a league of 
educated men for the purpose of eradicating our above-mentioned 


shortcomings by disseminating among the Jews the knowledge 
of the Russian language and other useful subjects. 

What the Society evidently aimed at was to place itself vtj 
the head of the Russian-Jewish mtelligenzia, which had under- v 
taken to act as negotiators between the Government and the f 
Jews in the cause of Russification. In reality, the mission \ 
of the Society was carried out within exceedingly narrow*' 
limits. " Education for the sake of Emancipation " became 
the watchword of the Society. It promoted higher education 
by granting monetary assistance to Jewish students, but it 
did nothing either for the upbuilding of a normal Jewish 
school or for the improvement of the heders and yeshibahs. 
The dissemination of the knowledge of " useful subjects" 
reduced itself to the grant of a few subsidies to Jewish writers 
for translating a few books on history and natural science into 

Even more circumscribed and utilitarian was the point of 
view adopted by the Odessa branch of the Society. This 
branch, founded in 1867, adopted as its slogan " the enlighten- 
ment of the Jews through the Russian language and in the 
Russian spirit" The Russification of the Jews was to be 
promoted by translating the Bible and the prayer-book into 
the Russian language, " which must become the national tongue 
of the Jews." However, the headlong rush for assimilation 
was soon halted by the sinister spectacle of the Odessa pogrom 
of 1871. The moving spirits of the local branch could not 
help, to use the language of its president, " losing heart and 
becoming rather doubtful as to whether the goal pursued by 
them is in reality a good one, seeing that all the endeavors of 
our brethren to draw nearer to the Russians are of no avail so 
long as the Russian masses remain in their present unenlight- 


ened condition and harbor hostile sentiments towards the 
Jews." The pogrom pnt a temporary stop to the activity of the 
Odessa branch. 
As for the central Committee in St Petersburg, its experience 
(was not less disappointing. For, despite aU the endeavors 
I of the Society to adapt itself to the official point of view, it 
; was regarded with suspicion by the powers that be, haying 
\ been included by the informer Brafman among the constitu- 
ent organizations of the dreadful and mysterious "Jewish 
Kahal." The Russian assimilators, now branded as separa- 
tists, found themselves in a tragic conflict. Moreover, the 
work of the Society in promoting general culture among the 
Jews was gradually losing its raison SUrt, since, without 
any effort on its part, the Jews began to flock to the gymnaaia 
and tmlversities. The former practical stimulus to general 
culture — the acquisition of a diploma for the sake of equal 
rights — was intensified by the promulgation of the military 
statute of 1874 which conferred a number of privileges in the 
discharge of military duty on those possessing a higher educa- 
tion. These privileges induced many parents, particularly 
among the merchant class which was thai drafted into the 
army for the first time, to send their children to the middle 
and higher educational institutions. As a result, the role of 
the Society in the dissemination of enlightenment reduced 
itself to a mere dispensation of charity, and the great crisis 
of the eighties found this organization standing irresolute at 
the cross-roads. 

3. The Jewish Press 

In the absence of a comprehensive net-work of social agen- 
cies, the driving force in this cultural upheaval came from the 
periodical Jewish press. The creation of several press organs 


in Hebrew and Banian in the beginning of the sixties was a 
sign of like times. Though different in their linguistic medium, 
the two groups of publications wen equally engaged in the 
task of the regeneration of Judaism, each adapting itself to 
its particular circle of readers. The Hebrew periodieais, and 
partly also those in Yiddish which addressed themselves to 
the masses, preached Haskalah in the narrower sense. They 
advocated the necessity of a Russian elementary education and 
of secular culture in general ; they emphasised the usetessness 
of the traditional Jewish school training, and exposed super- 
stition and obscurantism. The Russian publications, again, 
which were intended for the Jewish and the Russian inieUi- 
genzia, pursued in the main a political goal, the fight for 
equal rights and the defence of Judaism against its numerous 

In both groups one can discern the gradual ripening of the 
social Jewish consciousness, the adrance from elementary and 
often naive notions to more complex ideas. The two Hebrew 
weeklies founded in I860, ha-Karmel, "The Carmel," in 
Vilna, and ha-M elite, "The Interpreter," in Odessa, the 
former edited by Ffinn and the latter by Zederbaum, 1 were at 
first adapted to the mental level of grown-up children, ex- 
patiating upon the benefits of secular education and the 
* favors " of the Government consequent upon it. Ha-Kwrmel 
expired in 1870, while yet in its infancy, though it continued 
to appear at irregular intervals in the form of booklets dealing 
with scientific and literary subjects. Ha-Melitz was more suc- 
cessful. It soon grew to be a live and courageous organ which 

1 Before that time, the only weekly in Hebrew was Ka-Magffid, 
" The Herald/' a paper of no particular literary distinction, pub- 
lished since 1856 in the Prussian border-town Lyck, though address- 
ing itself primarily to the Jews of Russia. 


hurled its shafts at Hasidism and Tzaddikism, and occasionally 
even ventured to raise its hand against rabbinical Judaism. 
The Yiddish weekly Kol Meba&er? which was published dur- 
ing 1862-1871 as a supplement to ha-Melitz and spoke directly 
to the masses in their own language, attacked the dark sides 
of the old order of things in publicists essays and humoristic 

Another step forward was the publication of the Hebrew 
monthly ha-Shahar, "The Dawn," which was founded by 
Perez Smolenskin in 1869. This periodical, which appeared 
in Vienna but was read principally in Russia, pursued a two- 
fold aim: to fight against the fanaticism of the benighted 
masses, on the one hand, and combat the indifference to 
Judaism of the intellectuals, on the other. Ha-Shahar exerted 
a tremendous influence upon the mental development of the 
young generation which had been trained in the heders and 
yeshibahs. Hare they found a response to the thoughts that 
agitated them ; here they learned to think logically and criti- 
cally and to distinguish between the essential elements in 
Judaism and its mere accretions. Ha-Shahar was the staff of 
life for the generation of that period of transition, which 
stood on the border-line dividing the old Judaism from the 

The various stages in the Bussification of the Jewish inteU 
ligenzia are marked by the changing tendencies of the Jewish 
periodical press in the Bussian language. In point of literary 
form, it approached the European models more closely than 
the contemporary Hebrew press. The contributors to the three 
Russian-Jewish weeklies, all of than issued in Odessa,* had 

P " A Voice Announcing Good Tidings."] 

' Raztwyet, " The Dawn," I860, BUn, M Zion," 1861, Dyen t M The 
Day/' 1869-1871. 


the advantage of having before them patterns of Western 
Europe. Jewish publicists of the type of Biesser and Philipp- 
son * served as living examples. They had blazed the way for 
Jewish journalism, and had shown it how to fight for civil 
emancipation, to ward off anti-Semitic attacks, and strive at 
the same time for the advancement of inner Jewish life. 

However, as soon as the Russian Biessers applied them- 
selves to their task, they met with insurmountable difficulties. 
When the Bazswyet, which was edited by Osip (Joseph) Bab- 
inovich, attempted to lay bare the inner wounds of Jewish life, 
it encountered the concerted opposition of all prominent Jews, 
who were of the opinion that an organ employing the language 
of the country should not, on tactical grounds, busy itself 
with self -revelations, but should rather limit itself to the fight 
for equal rights* The latter function again was hampered by 
the " other side," the Russian censorship. Despite the moderate 
tone adopted by the Bazswyet in its articles on Jewish emanci- 
pation, the Russian censorship found them incompatible with 
the interests of the State. One circular sent out by the Govern- 
ment went even so far as to prohibit " to discuss the question 
of granting the Jews equal rights with those of the other 
(Russian) subjects." On one occasion the editor of the 
Bazswyet, in appealing to the authorities of St. Petersburg 
against the prohibition of a certain article by the Odessa 
censor, had to resort to the sham argument that the incrim- 
inated article referred merely to the necessity of granting the 
Jews equality in the right of residence but not in other rights. 

I 1 Gabriel Riesaer (died 1863), the famous champion of Jewish 
emancipation in Germany, established the periodical Der Jude in 
1832. Ludwig Phllippson (died 1889) founded in 1837 Die 
Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums, which still appears la 


But even this stratagem failed of its object. After a year of 
bitter struggle against the interference of the censor and 
against financial difficulties — the number of Bussian readers' 
among Jews was still very small at that time — the Razswyet 
passed out of existence. 

Its successor Sion (' < Zi<m ,, ) > edited by Solovaychik and 
Leon Pinsker, who subsequently became the exponent of pre- 
Herzlian Zionism/ attempted a different policy : to prove the 
caae of *e Jews by arraying the anti-SemiiS and Lpiaint- 
ing the Bussian public with the history of Judaism. 8ion x 
too, like its predecessors, had to give up the fight in less than 
a year. 

After an interval of seven years a new attempt was made 
in the same city. The Dyen (" The Day ") * was able to 
muster a larger number of contributors from among the in- 
creased ranks of the "titled" intelligenzia than its prede- 
cessors. The new periodical was bolder in unfurling the 
banner of emancipation, but it also went much further than 
its predecessors in its championship of Bussification and as- 
similation. The motto of the Dyen was " complete fusion of 
the interests of the Jewish population with those of the other 
citizens." The editors looked upon the Jewish problem * not 
as a national but as a social and economic " issue, which in 
their opinion could be solved simply by bestowing upon this* 
" section of the Bussian people " the same rights which were 
enjoyed by the rest. The Odessa pogrom of 1871 might have 
taught the writers of the Dyen to judge more soberly the pros- 
pects of u a fusion of interests," had not a meddlesome censor- 
ed See later, p. 330 et seqJJ 

[* The name was meant to symbolize the approaching day of 
freedom. It was a weekly publication.] 


ship forced this periodical to discontinue its publication after 
a short time. 

The next few years were a period of silence in the Ruseian- 
Jewish press. 1 The rank and file of the Bnssian Jewish intel- 
lectuals, who formed the backbone of the reading public of this 
press, became indifferent to it. Living up conscientiously to the 
principle of a « fusion of interest*," they failed to recognize 
the special interests of their own people, whose only duty they 
thought was to be Russified, i. e., obliterated and put out of 
existence. The better elements among the inieUigenzia, how- 
ever, looked with consternation upon this growing indiffer- 
ence to everything Jewish among the college-bred Jewish 
youth. As a result, a new attempt was made toward the very 
end of this period to restore the Russian-Jewish press. Three 
weeklies, the Russki Yevrey ("The Russian Jew"), the 
Razsvryet ("The Dawn"), and later on the Vashhod ("The 
Sunrise "), were started in St. Petersburg, all endeavoring to 
gain the hearts of the Russian Jewish intelligenzia. In the 
midst of this work they were overwhelmed by the terrific cat- 
aclysm of 1881, which decided the further destinies of Jewish 
journalism in Russia. 

4. The Jews and the Revolutionist Movement 

The Russian school and literature pushed the Jewish College 
youth head over heels into the intellectual currents of progres- 
sive Russian society. Naturally enough a portion of the 
Jewish youth was also drawn into the revolutionary movement 

1 We disregard the colorless Vpettnik Russkikh Yevrey ev (" The 
Herald of Russian Jews"), published by Zederbaum in the be- 
ginning of the seventies in St. Petersburg, and the volumes of the 
Yevreyakaya BiUiotycka ("The Jewish Library"), issued at 
Irregular intervals by Adolph Landau. 


of the seventies, a movement which, in spite of the theoretic 
"materialism" of its adepts, was of an essentially idealistic 
tendency. In joining the ranks of the revolutionaries, the 
young Jews were less actuated by resentment against the con- 
J : tinued, though somewhat mitigated, rightlessness of their own 
people than by discontent with the general political reaction 
in Bussia, that discontent which found expresion in the move- 
ment of " Populism/' * of " Going to the People/' * and 
similar currents then in vogue. Jewish students, attending the 
rabbinical and teachers' institutes of the Government, or 
autodidacts from among former heder and yeshibah pupils, 
also began to " go to the people " — the Russian people, to be 
sure, not the Jewish. They carried on a revblutionary propa- 
ganda, both by direct and indirect means, among the Russian 
peasants and workingmen, known to them only from books. 
It was taken for granted at that time that the realization of 
the ideals of Russian democracy would carry with it the solu- 
tion of the Jewish as well as of all other sectional problems 
of Russian life, so that these problems might for the moment 
be safely set aside. 

As far as the Jewish youth was concerned, the whole move- 
ment was doubly academic, for the only points of contact of 
that youth with younger Russia was not living reality but the 
book, problems of the intellect, the search for new ways, the at- 
tempt to work out a Weltanschauung. The fundamental article 
of faith of the Jewish socialists was cosmopolitanism, and they 

[*In Russian, narodnichettvo, from narod, "People/' a demo- 
cratic movement in favor of the down-trodden masses, particularly 
the Russian peasantry*] 

[•Under the influence of the democratic movement many Rus- 
sians of higher birth and culture settled among the peasantry, 
to which they dedicated their lives. The name of Leo Tolstoi 
readily suggests itself in this connection.] 



failed to discern in Bussian " Populism " the underlying ele- 
ments of a Bussian national movement. Jewry was not 
believed to be a nation, and as a religious entity it was looked 
upon as a relic of the past, which was doomed to disappearance. 

One attempt of coupling socialism with Judaism ought not 
to be passed over in silence. In the beginning of the seventies 
there existed in Vilna a Jewish revolutionary circle made up 
principally of the pupils of the rabbinical school and of the 
teachers' institute of the same city. In 1875, the police tracked 
the members of the circle. Some were arrested, others escaped. 
One of the refugees, A. Lieberman, managed to reach London 
where he associated with the circle of Lavrov and the editors 
of the revolutionary journal Vperyod (" Forwards "). 

In the following year, Lieberman founded in London the 
u League of Jewish Socialists " for the purpose of carrying 
on a propaganda among the Jewish masses. It was a small 
society of students and workingmen which busied itself with 
arranging lectures and debates, and penning Hebrew appeals 
on the need of organizing the proletariat. The society was 
soon dissolved, and Lieberman emigrated to Vienna, where, 
under the name of Freeman, he started in 1877 a socialis- 
tic magazine in Hebrew under the name ha-Emet ("The 
Truth "). The first two issues of harEmet were admitted 
into Russia, but the third was confiscated by the censor. The 
magazine had to be discontinued. It yielded its place to a 
paper called Asefat Hakamvm ("The Assembly of Wise 
Men "), published in Koenigsberg in 1878 by M. Winchevski 
as a supplement to the paper ha-Kol ("The Voice "), which 
was issued there by Bodkinsdh. Soon this whole species of 
socialistic literature was put out of existence. In 1879, Lieber- 
man in Vienna and his comrades in Berlin and Koenigsberg 


were arrested and expelled from the borders of Austria and 
Prussia. They emigrated to England and America, and lost 
touch with Bussia. 

In Bnssia itself the Jewish revolutionaries were heart and 
soul devoted to the cause. The children of the ghetto displayed 
considerable heroism and self-sacrifice in the revolutionary 
upheaval of the seventies. Jews figured in all important 
political trials and public manifestations; they languished in 
the gaols, and suffered as exiles in Siberia. But {his idealis- 
tic fight for general freedom lacked a Jewish note, the endeavor 
to free their own nation which lived in greater thraldom than 
any other. And no one at that time ever dreamt that after 
all these sacrifices the Jews of Busssia would be visited by 
still greater misfortunes, by pogroms and increased disabilities* 

5. The Nbo-Hebraic Renaissance 

With all deflections from the course of normal development, 
such as are unavoidable in times of violent mental disturbances, 
the main line of the whole cultural movement, the resultant 
of the various forces within it, was headed towards the healthy 
progress of Judaism. The most substantial product of this 
movement was the Neo-Hebraic literary renaissance which had 
already appeared in faint outlines on the sombre background 
of external oppression and internal obscurantism during the 
preceding period. The Haskalah, formerly anathematized, waa 
now able to unfold all its creative powers. What in the time of 
Isaac Baer Levinsohn had been accomplished stealthily by a 
few isolated conspirators of enlightenment in some petty 
society in Vilna or in some out-of-the-way town like Kamenetz- 
Podolsk was now done in the full light of the day. Instead 
of a few stray writers, the harbingers of the new literature, 


there now appeared this literature itself, new both in form and 
content. The restoration of the Hebrew language to its biblical 
purity and the removal of the linguistic excrescences of the 
later rabbinic idiom became for some writers an end in itself, 
for others a weapon in the fight for enlightenment. Melitzdk, 
a conventionalized style, which, moving strictly within the con- 
fines of the biblical diction, endeavored to adapt the form of an 
ancient language to the content of a modern life, became the 
fashion of the day. 

In point of content rejuvenated Hebrew literature was of 
necessity elementary. Mental restlessness and naiveness of 
thought were not conducive to the development of that 
" science of Judaism " which had attained to such luxurious 
growth in Germany. The Hebrew writers of Eussia during 
that period had no means of propagating their ideas, except 
through the medium of poetry, fiction, or journalism. The 
results of historic research were squeezed into the mould of a 
poem or novel, or it furnished the material for a press article, 
in which the Jewish past was considered from the point of 
view of the present Objective scientific investigation could 
find no place, and the little that was accomplished in that 
direction did not bear the character of a living account of the 
past, but was rather in the nature of crude archaeological 
material. At the same time, as the crest of the social progress 
was rising, the border-line between poetry and fiction, on the 
one hand, and topical journalism, on the other, was gradually 
obliterated. The poet or novelist was often turned into a 
fighter, who attacked the old order of things and defended 
the new. 

Even before the first blush of dawn, when every one in 
Bussia was yet groaning under the strokes of an autocratic 

15 > 


tyranny, which the presentiment of its speedy end had driven 
into madness, the bewitching strains of the new Hebrew lyre 
resounded through Lithuania. They came from Micah Joseph 
Lebensohn, the son of " Adam " Lebensohn, author of high- 
flown Hebrew odes * — a contemplative Jewish youth, suffering 
from tuberculosis and Weltschmerz. He began his poetic career 
in 1840 by a Hebrew adaptation of the second book of Virgil's 

\;Aenei&J but soon turned to Jewish motifs. In the musical 
rhymes of the " Songs of the Daughter of Zion " (Shire bat 
Ziotij Vilna, 1851), the author poured forth the anguish of 
his suffering soul, which was torn between faith and science, 
weighed down by the oppression from without and stirred to 
its depth by the tragedy of his homeless nation." A cruel 
disease cut short the poet's life in 1852, at the age of twenty- 
four. A small collection of lyrical poems, published after 
his death under the title Kvnnor bat Zion (" The Harp of 
the Daughter of Zion"), exhibited even more brilliantly 
the wealth of creative energy which was hidden in the soul 
of this prematurely cut-off youth, who on the brink of the 
grave sang so touchingly of love, beauty, and the pure joys 
of life. 

A year after the death of our poet, in 1853, there appeared 
in the same capital of Lithuania the historic novel Ahdbat Zion 
("Love of Zion"). Its author, Abraham Mapu of Kovno 
(1808-1867), was a poor melammed who had by his own en- 
deavors and without the help of a teacher raised himself to the 

, level of a modern Hebrew pedagogue. He lived in two worlds, 
in the valley of tears, such as the ghetto presented during the 

[' See above, p» 184 et seq.] 

[* It was made from the German translation of Schiller.] 
* See the poeiris " Solomon and Koheieth," " Jael and Sisera," 
and " Judah ha-Levi." 


reign of Nicholas, and in the radiant recollections of the far-off 
biblical past. The inspired dreamer, while strolling on the 
banks of the Niemen, among the hills which skirt the city of 
Kovno, was picturing to himself the luminous dawn of the 
Jewish nation. He published these radiant descriptions of 
ancient Judaea in the dismal year of the " captured recruits." * 
The youths of the ghetto, who had been poring over talmudic 
folios, fell eagerly upon this little book which breathed the 
perfumes of Sharon and Carmel. They read it in secret — 
to read a novel openly was not a safe thing in those days — , 
and their hearts expanded with rapture over the enchant- 
ing idyls of the time of King Hezekiah, the portrayal of 
tumultuous Jerusalem and peaceful Beth-lehem. They sighed 
over the fate of the lovers Amnon and Tamar, and in their 
flight of imagination were carried far away from painful 
reality. The naive literary construction of the plot was of 
no consequence to the reader who tasted a novel for the first 
time in his life. The ruuvete of the plot was in keeping with 
the naive, artificially reproduced language of the prophet 
Isaiah and the biblical annals, which intensified the illusion 
of antiquity. 

Several years after the publication of his u Love of Zion," 
when social currents had begun to stir Russian Z&fnr$, Mapu 
began his five volume novel of contemporary life, under the 
title 'Ayit Tzabua, "The Speckled Bird," or "The Hypo- 
crite " (1857-1869). In ^ his naive diction, which is curi- 
ously out of harmony with the complex plot in sensational 
French style, the author pictures the life of an obscure Lithu- 
anian townlet: the Kahal bosses who hide their misdeeds 
beneath the cloak of piety; the fanatical rabbis, the TartuSes 

[* See on this expression above, p. 148 et teg.] 


of the Pale of Settlement, who persecute the champions of en- 
lightenment. As an offset against these shadows of the past, 
Mapu lovingly paints the barely visible shoots of the new life, 
the MashU, who strives to reconcile religion and science, the 
misty figure of the Jewish youth who goes to the Bussian school 
in the hope of serving his people, the profiles of the Bussian 
Jewish intellectuals, and the captains of industry from among 
the rising Jewish plutocracy. 

Toward the end of his life Mapu returned to the historical 
novel, and in the " Transgression of Samaria" (Ashmat 
Shomron, 1865) he attempted to draw a picture of ancient 
Hebrew life during the declining years of the Northern King- 
dom. But this novel, appearing as it did at the height of the 
cultural movement, failed to produce the powerful effect of 
his Ahabat Zion, although its charming biblical diction enrap- 
tured the lovers of Melitzah. 1 

The noise of the new Jewish life, with its constantly growing 
problems, invaded the precincts of literature, and even the 
poets were impelled to take sides in the burning questions 
of the day. The most important poet of that era, Judah Leib 
Gordon (1830-1892), who began by composing biblical epics 
and moralistic fables, soon entered the field of " intellectual 
poetry/ 7 and became the champion of enlightenment and a 
trenchant critic of old-fashioned Jewish life. As far back as 
1863, while active as a teacher at a Crown school * in Lithuania, 
he composed his " Marseillaise of Enlightenment " (Hakitzah 
*ammi, " Awake, My People"). In it he sang of the sun 
shedding its rays over the " Land of Eden," where the neck 
of the enslaved was freed from the yoke and where the modern 

[* An imitation of the biblieal Hebrew diction. Compare p. 225.] 
[* See on the Crown schools pp. 74 and 77.] 


Jew was welcomed with a brotherly embrace. The poet calls 
upon his people to join the ranks of their feltow-countrymen, 
the hosts of cultured Bussian citizens who speak the language 
of the land, and offers his Jewish contemporaries the brief 
formula: " Be a man on the street and a Jew in the house," * 
%. 6., be a Russian in public and a Jew in private life. 

Gordon himself defined his function in the work of Jewish 
regeneration to be that of exposing the inner ills of the people, 
of fighting rabbinical orthodoxy and the tyranny of ceremon- 
ialism. This carping tendency, which implies a condemnation 
of the whole historic structure of Judaism, manifested itself 
as early as 1868 in his " Songs of Judah " (Shire Yehudah), 
in strophes radiant with the beauty of their Hebrew diction : 

To live by soulless rites hast thou been taught, 
To swim against life, and the lifeless letter to keep; 
To be dead upon earth, and in heaven alive, 
To dream while awake, and to speak while asleep. 

During the seventies, Gordon joined the ranks of the official 
agents of enlightenment. He removed to St. Petersburg, and 
became secretary of the Society for the Diffusion of En- 
lightenment. The new Hebrew periodical ha-Shahar* pub- 
lished several of his " contemporary epics " in which he vented 
his wrath against petrified Babbinism. He portrays the 
misery of a Jewish woman who is condemned to enter mar- 
ried life at the bidding of the marriage-broker, without 
love and without happiness, or he describes the tragedy of 
another woman whose future is wrecked by a "Dot over 

l*Eeyi adorn. be-Useteka, wihudi be-oholeka.] 
[ 9 See p. 218.] 



the i." * He lashes furiously the orthodox spiders, the official 
leaders of the community, who catch the young pioneers of 
enlightenment in the meshes of Kahal authority, backed by 
police force. Climbing higher upon the ladder of history, the 
poet registers his protest against the predominance of the 
spiritual over the worldly element in the whole evolution of 
Judaism. He assails the prophet Jeremiah who in beleaguered 
Jerusalem preaches submission to the Babylonians and strict 
obedience to the Law : the prophet, dressed up in the garb of 
a contemporary orthodox rabbi, was to be exhibited as a 
terrifying incarnation of the soulless formula "Law above 

The implication is obvious: the power of orthodoxy must 
be broken and Jewish life must be secularized. But while 
unmasking the old, Gordon could not fail to perceive the 
sore spots in the new, "enlightened" generation. He saw 
the flight of the educated youth from the Jewish camp, its 
ever-growing estrangement from the national tongue in which 
the poet uttered his songs, and a cry of anguish burst from 
his lips : a For Whom Do I Labor ? " * It seemed to him that 
the rising generation, detached from the fountain-head of 
Jewish culture, would no more be able to read the " Songs of 

I 1 The title of a famous poem by Gordon, Kotzo shel Yod, literally 
44 the tittle of the Yod, 1 * the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. 
The poem in question pictures the tragedy of a woman who re- 
mained unhappy the rest of her life because the Hebrew bill of 
divorce which she had obtained from her husband was declared 
void on account of a trifling error in spelling.] 

[* The author alludes to Gordon's poem " Tzidkiyyahu be-bet ha- 
pekuddot ("Zedekiah in Prison"), in which the defeated and 
blinded Judean ruler (see Jer. 52. 11) bitterly complains of the 
evil effects of the prophetic doctrine.] 

[* Title of a poem by Gordon, Lemi ani 'amelf ] 


Zion," and that the poetf s rhymes were limited in their appeal 
to the last handful of the worshippers of the Hebrew Muse: 

Who knows, but I am the last singer of Zion, 
And you are the last who my Bongs understand. 

These lines were penned on the threshold of the new era of 
the eighties. The exponent of Jewish self-criticism lived to 
see not only the horrors of the pogroms but also the misty 
dawn of the national movement, and he could comfort himself 
with the conviction that he was destined to be the singer for 
more than one generation. 

The question " For whom do I labor ? " was approached and 
solved in a different way by another writer, whose genius ex- 
panded with the increasing years of his long life. During the 
first years of his activity, Shalom Jacob Abramovich (born in 
1836) tried his strength in various fields. He wrote Hebrew 
essays on literary criticism (Mishpat Shalom, 1 18&9), adapted 
books on natural science written in modern languages (Toldot 
Jia-tebcf, " Natural History," 1862, ff.), composed a social Ten- 
denzroman under the title a Fathers and Children " (Ha-abot 
we-ha-banim, 1868 *; but all this left him dissatisfied. Pon- 
dering over the question u For whom do I labor ?," he came to 
the conclusion that his labors belonged to the people at large, 
to the down-trodden masses, instead of being limited to the 
educated classes who understood the national tongue. A pro- 
found observer of Jewish conditions in the Pale, he realized 
that the concrete life of the masses should be portrayed in 

[* " The Judgment of Shalom," with reference to the author's 
first name and with a clever allusion to the Hebrew text of 
Zech. 8. 16.] 

['Written under the influence of Turgenyev's famous novel 
which bears the same title. See above, p. 210, n. 1.] 


their living daily speech, in the Yiddish vernacular, which 
was treated with contempt by nearly all the Maskilim of that 

Accordingly, Abramovich began to write in the dialect of 
the people, under the assumed pen-name of Mendeh Mokher 
Sforim (Mendele the Bookseller) . Choosing his subjects from 
the life of the lower classes, he portrayed the pariahs of Jewish 
society and their oppressors (Dos hleine Menshele, "A 
Humble Man"), the life of Jewish beggars and vagrants 
(Fishhe der Krummer, "Fishke the Cripple "), and the im- 
mense cobweb which had been spun around the destitute 
.masses by the contractors of the meat tax and their accom- 
plices, the alleged benefactors of the community (Die Taxe, 
oder die Bande Stodt Bale Toyvos, " The Meat Tax, or the 
Gang of Town Benefactors"). His trenchant satire on the 
" tax " hit the mark, and the author had reason to fear the 
ire of those who were hurt to the quick by his literary shafts. 
He had to leave the town of Berdychev in which he resided 
at the time, and removed to Zhitomir. 

Here he wrote in 1873 one of his ripest works, " The Mare, 
or Prevention of Cruelty to Animals " (Die Klache) . In his 
allegorical narrative he depicts a homeless mare, the personifi- 
cation of the Jewish masses, which is pursued by the " bosses 
of the town " who do not allow her to graze on the common 
pasture-lands with the " town cattle," and who set street loafers 
and dogs at her heels. " The Society for the Prevention of 
Cruelty to Animals " (the Government) cannot make up its 
mind whether the mare should be granted equal rights with 
the native horses, or should be left unprotected, and the matter 
is submitted to a special commission. In the meantime, cer- 
tain horsemen from among the " communal benefactors " jump 


upon the back of the unfortunate mare, beat and torment her 
well-nigh to death, and drive her for their pleasure, until she 

Leaving the field of polemical allegory, Abramovich pub- 
lished the humorous description of the " Travels of Benjamin 
the Third " (Masse'ot Benyamvn ha-ShelisM, 1878), l por- 
traying a Jewish Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, who make an 
oversea journey to the mythical river Sambation — on the way 
from Berdychev to Kiev. A subtle observation of existing con- 
ditions combined .with a profound analysis of the problems of 
Jewish life, artistic power matched with publicistic skill — 
such are the salient features of the first phase of Abramovich's 
literary activity. 

In the following period, beginning with the eighties, his 
literary creations exhibit greater artistic harmony in their con- 
tent. As far as their linguistic garb is concerned, they com- 
bine the Yiddish vernacular with the Hebrew national tongue, 
which are employed side by side by our author as the vehicles 
of his thought, and reach at his hands an equally high state 
of perfection. 

6. The Harbinger of Jewish Nationalism (Perez 


The artistic portrayer of life was, however, a rare exception 
in the literature of the Haskalah. Eiven by social and cultural 
strife, the period of enlightenment called rather for theories 
than for art, and the novelist no less than the publicist was 
called upon to supply the want. This theoretic element was 

[* A famous Jewish traveller by the name of Benjamin lived in 
the twelfth century* Another modern Jewish traveller by the 
name of Joseph Israel, who died in 1864, adopted the name Ben- 
jamin II. Abramovich humorously designates his fictitious travel- 
ling hero as Benjamin III.] 


paramount in the novels of Perez Smolenskin (1842-1885), 
the editor of the popular Hebrew magazine h&ShaharS The 
pupil of a White Bussian yeshibah, he afterwards drifted into 
frivolous Odessa and still later to Vienna, suffering painfully 
from the shock of the contrast. Personally he had emerged 
unscathed from this conflict of ideas. But round about him 
he witnessed "the dead bodies of enlightenment, which are 
just as numerous as the victims of ignorance." He saw the 
Jewish youth fleeing from its people and forgetting its national 
language. He saw Kef orm Judaism of Western Europe which 
had retained nothing of Jewish culture except the modernized 
superficialities of the synagogue. Bepelled by this spectacle, 
Smolenskin decided from the very beginning to fight on two 
fronts: against the fanatics of orthodoxy in the name of 
European progress, and against the champions of assimilation 
in the name of national Jewish culture, and more particularly 
of the Hebrew language. " You say/ * Smolenskin exclaims, 
addressing himself to the assimilators, " let us be like the othe r 
nations^ Well and good. Let us, indeed, be like the other 
nations: cultured men and women, free from superstition, 
t 7' loyal citizens of the country. But let us also remember, as the 
lA *- A ^ other nations do, that we have no right to be ashamed of our 
origin, that it is our duty to hold dear our national language 
and our national dignity." 

In his first great novel " A Rover on Life's Paths " (Ha-to- 
% eh bedarke horhayyim, 1869-1876), Smolenskin carries his 
hero through all the stages of cultural development, leading 
from an obscure White Bussian hamlet to the centers of Eu- 
ropean civilization in London and Paris. But at the end of his 
" rovings n the hero ultimately attains to a synthesis of Jewish 
nationalism and European progress, and ends by sacrificing 

[* See above, p. 218.] 


r t 

his life while defending his brethren daring the Odessa pogrom 
of 1871. The other Tendenz-noveh of Smolenskin reflect the 
same double-fronted struggle: against the stagnation of the 
orthodox, particularly the Hasidim, and against the disloyally 
of the " enlightened." 

Smolenskin's theory of Judaism is formulated in two pub- 
licists works: "The Eternal People " (*Am 'olam? 1872) 
and * There is a Time to Plant " \ % Bi la-ta'at; 1875-1877). 
As a counterbalance to the artificial religious reforms of the 
[West, he sets up the far-reaching principle of Jewish evolution, 
of a gradual amalgamation of the national and humanitarian 
element within Judaism. The Messianic dogma, which the 
Jews of the West had completely abandoned because of its 
alleged incompatibility with Jewish citizenship in the Diaspora, 
is warmly defended by Smolenskin as one of the symbols of 
national unity. In the very center of his system stands the 
cult of Hebrew as a national language, " without which there 
is no Judaism." In order the more successfully to demolish 
the idea of assimilation, Smolenskin bombards its substructure, 
the theory of enlightenment as formulated by Moses Mendels- 
sohn, with its definition of the Jews as a religious community, 
and not as a nation, though in his polemical ardor he often goes 
too far, and does occasional violence to historic truth. 

In both works one may discern, though in vague outlines 
only, the theory of a " spiritual nation."* However, Smolen- 

FFromlsa. 44.7.] 

[> From Ecdes. 3. 2.] 

[* The conception of a " spiritual nation " as applied to Judaism 
has been formulated and expounded by the author of the present 
volume in a number of works. See his M Jewish History" (Jewish 
Publication Society, 1903) p. 29 et *eq., and the translator's essay 
" Dubnow's Theory of Jewish Nationalism " preprinted from the 
Maccabaean, 1906). More about this theory will be found in 
vol. III.] 


skin did not succeed in developing and consolidating his theory* 
The pogroms of 1881 and the beginning of the Jewish exodus 
from Bussia upset his equilibrium once more. He laid aside 
the question of the national development of Jewry in the 
Diaspora, and became an enthusiastic preacher of the restora- 
tion of the Jewish people in Palestine. In the midst of this 
propaganda the life of the talented publicist was cut short by 
a premature death. 

The same conviction was finally reached, after a prolonged 
inner struggle, by Moses Leib Lilienblum (1843-1910), who 
might well be called a * martyr of enlightenment" However, 
during the period under consideration he moved entirely within 
the boundaries of the Haskalah, of which he was a most radical 
exponent. Persecuted for his harmless liberalism by the 
fanatics of his native town of Vilkomir/ Lilienblum began to 
ponder over the question of Jewish religious reforms. In 
advocating the reform of Judaism, he was not actuated, as were 
so many in Western Europe, by the desire of adapting Judaism 
to the non-Jewish environment, but rather by the profound 
and painful conviction that dominant Babbinism in its medie- 
val phase did not represent the true essence of Judaism. Be- 
f orm of Judaism, as interpreted by Lilienblum, does not mean 
a revolution, but an evolution of Judaism. Just as the Talmud 
had once reformed Judaism in accordance with the require- 
ments of its time, so must Judaism be reformed by us in 
accordance with the demands of our own times. When the 
youthful writer embodied these views in a series of articles, 
published in the ha-Melitz under the title Orhot ha-Talmud 
(" The Ways of the Talmud," 1868^1869), his orthodox towns- 
men were so thoroughly aroused that his further stay in Vil- 

l 1 In the government of Kovna] 


komir was not free from danger, and he was compelled to 
remove to Odessa. Here he published in 1870 his rhymed 
satire Kehal refa'im* in which the dark shadows of a Jewish 
iown, the Kahal elders, the rabbis, the Tzaddiks, and other 
worthies, move weirdly about in the gloom of the nether-world. 

In Odessa Lilienblum joined the ranks of the Russified 
<x>llege youth, and became imbued with the radical ideas of 
Chernyshevaki and Pisaryev, gaining the reputation of a 
'"nihilist." His theory of Jewish reform, superannuated by 
his new materialistic world view, was thrown aside, and a 
gaping void opened in the soul of the writer. This frame 
of mind is reflected in Ldlienblum's self -revelation, " The Sins 
of Youth" (Hattot ne'urim, 1876), this agonizing cry of 
one of the many victims of the mental cataclysm of the sixties. 
The book made a tremendous impression, for the mental 
tortures depicted in it were typical of the whole age of transi- 
tion. However, the final note of the confession, the shriek of 
a wasted soul, which, having overthrown the old idols, has 
iailed to find a new God, did not express the general trend of 
that period, which was far from despair. 

As for our author, his tempestuous soul was soon set at rest. 
The events which filled the minds of progressive Jewry with 
agitation, the horrors of the pogroms and the political op- 
pression of the beginning of the eighties, brought peace to 
the aching heart of Lilienblum. He found the solution of the 
Jewish problems in the " Love of Zion," of which he became 
the philosophic exponent. At a later stage he became an 
-ardent champion of political Zionism. 

[* M The Congregation of the Dead," with allusion to Prov. ML 16.] 


7. Jewish Litebatube in the Eussian Language 

The left wing of " enlightenment " was represented during 
this period by Jewish literature in the Russian language, which 
had several noteworthy exponents. It is interesting to observe 
that, whereas all the prominent writers in Hebrew were chil- 
dren of profoundly nationalistic Lithuania, those that wrote in 
Eussian, with the sole exception of Levanda, were natives of 
South Bussia, where the two extremes, stagnant Hasidism and 
radical Bussification, fought for supremacy. The founder of 
this branch of Jewish literature was Osip (Joseph) Babinovich 
(1817-1869), a Southerner, a native of Poltava and a resident 
of Odessa/ Alongside of journalistic articles he wrote pro- 
tracted novels. His touching a Pictures of the Past," his 
stories "The Penal Becruit" and "The Inherited Candlestick" 
(1859-1860) called up before the generation living at the dawn 
of the new era of reforms the shadows of the passing night : 
the tortures of Nicholas' conscription and the degrading forms 
of Jewish rightlessness. 

The fight against this rightlessness was the goal of his 
journalistic activity which, prior to the publication of the 
Razswyet, he had carried on in the columns of the liberal 
Russian press. The problems of inner Jewish life had but 
little attraction for him. Like Eiesser, he looked upon civil 
emancipation as a panacea for all Jewish ailments. He was 
snatched away by death before he could be cured of this 

Babinovich's work was continued by a talented youth, the 
journalist Hya (Elias) Orshanski of Tekaterinoslav (1846- 
1875) , who was the main contributor to the Dyen of Odessa and 
to the Tevreyshaya Bibliotyeka.* To fight for Jewish rights, 

V See above, p. 219.] 

[* Compare above, p. 220 et seqJl 


not to offer humble apologies, to demand emancipation, not 
to beg for it, this attitude lends a charm of its own to Orshan- 
ski's writings. His brilliant analysis of " Russian Legislation 
concerning the Jews " * offers a complete anatomy of Jewish 
disfranchisement in Russia, beginning with Catherine II. and 
ending with Alexander II. 

Nevertheless, being a child of his age, he preached its form- 
ula. While a passionate Jew at heart, he championed the 
cause of Russification, though not in the extreme form of 
spiritual self-effacement. The Odessa pogrom of 1871 stag- 
gered his impressionable soul. He was tossing about restlessly, 
seeking an outlet for his resentment, but everywhere he knocked 
* his head against the barriers of censorship and police. Had he 
been granted longer life, he might, like Smolenskin, have 
chosen the road of a nationalistic-progressive synthesis, but 
the white plague carried him off in his twenty-ninth year. 

The literary work of Lev (Leon) Levanda (1835-1888) was 
of a more complicated character. A graduate of one of the 
official rabbinical schools, he was first active as teacher in a 
Jewish Crown school in Minsk, and afterwards occupied the 
post of a " learned Jew" 1 under Muravyov, the governor- 
general of Vilna. He thus moved in the hot-bed of " official 
enlightenment " and in the headquarters of the policy of Rus- 
sification as represented by Muravyov, a circumstance which 
left its impress upon all the products of his pen. In his first 
novel, u The Grocery Store " (1860), of little merit from the 

P The title of his work on the same subject which appeared In 
St Petersburg in 1877.] 

[•In Russian, Uchony Yevrey, an expert in Jewish matters, 
attached, according to the Russian law of 1844, to the superinten- 
dents of school districts and to the governors-general within the 


artistic point of view, he still appears as the naive bard of that 
shallow " enlightenment," the champion of which is sufficiently 
characterized by wearing a European costume, calling himself 
by a well-sounding German or Russian name (in the novel 
under discussion the hero goes by the name of Arnold), culti- 
vating friendly relations with noble-minded Christians and 
making a love match unassisted by the marriage-broker. 

During this stage of his career, Levanda was convinced 
that "no educated Jew could help being a cosmopolitan. 9 ' 
But a little later his cosmopolitanism displayed a distinct 
propensity toward Eussification. In his novel " A Hot Time " 
(1871-1872), Levanda renounces his former Polish sympathies, 
and, through the mouth of his hero Sarin, preaches the gospel 
of the approaching cultural fusion between the Jews and the 
Russians which is to mark a new epoch in the history of the 
Jewish people. Old-fashioned Jewish life is cleverly ridiculed 
in his " Sketches of the Past » (" The Earlocks of my Mel- 
lammed," * Schoolophobia," etc., 1870-1875). His peace of 
mind was not even disturbed by the manifestation, towards 
the end of the sixties, of the anti-Semitic reaction in those very 
official circles in which the " learned Jew" moved and in 
which Brafman was looked up to as an authority in matters 
appertaining to Judaism. 1 But the catastrophe of 1881 dealt 
a staggering blow to Levanda's soul, and forced him to over- 
throw his former idol of assimilation. With his mind not yet 
fully settled on the new theory of nationalism, he joined 
the Palestine movement towards the end of his life, and went 
down to his grave with a clouded soul. 

1 Levanda sat side by side with this renegade and informer in 
the Commission on the Jewish Question which had been appointed 
by the governor-general of Vilna. [See p. 189.] 


One who stuck fast in his denial of Judaism was Grigory 
Bogrov (1825-1885). The descendant of a family of rabbis 
in Poltava, he passed " from darkness to light " by way of the 
curious educational institution of Nicholas 9 brand, the office 
of an excise farmer in which he was employed for a number 
of years. The enlightened AJctziznik * became conscious of his 
literary talent late in life. His protracted "Memoirs of a 
Jew," largely made up of autobiographic material, were pub- 
lished in a Russian magazine as late as 1871-1873.' They 
contain an acrimonious description of Jewish life in the time 
of Nicholas I. No Jewish artist had ever yet dipped his brush 
in colors so dismal and had displayed so ferocious a hatred 
as did Bogrov in painting the old Jewish mode of life within 
the Pale, with its poverty and darkness, its hunters and vic- 
tims, its demoralized Kahal rule of the days of conscription. 
Bogrov'8 account of his childhood and youth is not relieved by 
a single cheerful reminiscence, except that of a young Russian 
girl. The whole patriarchal life of a Jewish townlet of that 
period is transformed into a sort of inferno teeming with 
criminals or idiots. 

To the mind of Bogrov, only two ways promised an escape 
from this hell : the way of cosmopolitanism and rationalism, 
opening up into humanity at large, or the way leading into 
the midst of the Russian nation. Bogrov himself stood 
irresolute on this fateful border-line. In 1878 he wrote to 
Levanda that as " an emancipated cosmopolitan he would long 
ago have crossed over to the opposite shore," where " other 
sympathies and ideals smiled upon him/ 9 were he not kept 

[* See p. 186, n. L] 

'Shortly afterwards the "Memoirs" were supplemented by 
another autobiographic novel, "The Captured Recruit" 



within the Jewish fold "by four million people innocently 
suffering from systematic persecutions/ 9 

Bogrov's hatred of the persecutors of the Jewish people 
was poured forth in his historic novel " A Jewish Manuscript " 
(1876), the plot of which is based on events of the time of 
Khmelnitzki. 1 But even here, while describing, as he himself 
puts it, the history of the struggle between the spider and the 
fly, he finds in the life of the fly nothing worthy of sympathy 
except its sufferings. In 1879 Bogrov began a new novel, " The 
Scum of the Age," picturing the life of the modern Jewish 
youth who were engulfed in the Russian revolutionary propa- 
ganda. But the hand which knew how to portray the horrors 
of the old conscription was powerless to reproduce, except in 
very crude outlines, the world of political passions which was 
foreign to the author, and the novel remained unfinished. 

The reaction of the eighties produced no change in Bogrov*s 
attitude. He breathed his last in a distant Russian village, 
and was buried in a Russian cemetery, having embraced 
Christianity shortly before his death, as a result of a sad 
concatenation of family circumstances. 

Before the young generation which entered upon active life 
in the eighties lay the broken tablets of Russian Jewish 
literature. New tablets were needed, partly to restore the 
commandments of the preceding period of enlightenment, 
partly to correct its mistakes. 

FSee on that period *oL I, p. 144 «t aegj 



1. The Triumph op Autocracy 

On March 1, 1881, Alexander II. met his death on one of the 
principal thoroughfares of St. Petersburg, smitten by dynamite 
bombs hurled at him by a group of terrorists. The Tzar, who 
had freed the Russian peasantry from personal slavery, paid 
with his life for refusing to free the Russian people from politi- 
cal slavery and police tyranny. The red terrorism of the 
revolutionaries was the counterpart of the white terrorism of 
the Russian authorities, who for many years had suppressed 
the faintest striving for liberty, and had sent to gaol and prison, 
or deported to Siberia, the champions of a constitutional form 
of government and the spokesmen of social reforms. Forced 
by the persecutions of the police to hide beneath the surface, the 
revolutionary societies of underground Russia found themselves 
compelled to resort to methods of terrorism. This terrorism 
found its expression during the last years of Alexander II. 
in various attempts on the life of that ruler, and culminated 
in the catastrophe of March 1. 

Among the members of these revolutionary societies were 
also some representatives from among the young Jewish inteU 
ligenaia. They were in large part college students, who had 
been carried away by the ideals of their Russian comrades. 
But few of them were counted among the active terrorists. 
The group which prepared the murder of the Tzar comprised 
but one Jewish member, a woman by the name of Hesia 


Helfman, who, moreover, played but a secondary rdle in the 
conspiracy, by keeping a secret residence for the revolution- 
aries. Nevertheless, in the official circles, which were anxious 
to justify their oppression of the Jews, it became customary 
to refer to the " important r61e " played by the Jews in the 
Bussian revolution. 

It was with preconceived notions of this kind that Alex- 
ander III. ascended the throne of Russia, a sovereign with 
unlimited power but with a very limited political horizon. 
Being a Bussian of the old-fashioned type and a zealous cham- 
pion of the Greek-Orthodox Church, he shared the anti-Jewish 
prejudices of his environment. Already as crown prince he 
ordered that a monetary reward be given to the notorious 
Lutostanski, who had presented him with his libellous pam- 
phlet " Concerning the Use of Christian Blood by the Jews." * 
During the Busso-Turkish war of 1877, when as heir-apparent 
he was in command of one of the Balkan armies, he allowed 
himself to be persuaded that the abuses in the Bussian com- 
missariat were due to the " Jewish " purveyors who supplied 
the army. 1 This was all that was known about Judaism in the 
circles from which the ruler of five million Jews derived his 

In March and April, 1881, the destinies of Bussia were being 
decided at secret conferences, which were held between the 
Tzar and the highest dignitaries of state in the palace of 
the quiet little town of Gatchina, whither Alexander III. had 
withdrawn after the death of his father. Two parties and 

PSeep. 203.] 

"The business firm in question was that of Greger, Horritz, 
and Kohan, of whom the first was a Greek, and the second a con- 
verted Jew. [See above, p. 202, n. 1.] 


two progipms were straggling for mastery at these conferences. 
The party of the liberal Minister Loris-Melikov, championing 
a program of moderate reforms, pleaded primarily for the 
establishment of an advisory commission to be composed of the 
deputies of the rural and urban administrations for the purpose 
of considering all legal projects prior to their submission to 
the Council of State. This plan of a paltry popular represen- 
tation, which had obtained the approval of Alexander II. dur- 
ing the last days of his life, assumed in the eyes of the reac- 
tionary party the proportions of a dangerous " constitution," 
and was execrated by it as an encroachment upon the sacred 
prerogatives of autocracy. The head of this party was the pro- 
curator-general of the Holy Synod, Constantine Petrovich 
Pobyedonostzev, a former professor at the University of Mos- 
cow, who had been Alexander IIL's tutor in the political 
sciences when the latter was crown prince. As the exponent of 
an ecclesiastical police state, Pobyedonostzev contended that en- 
lightenment and political freedom were harmful to Russia, that 
the people must be held in a state of patriarchal submission to 
the authority of the Church and of the temporal powers, and 
that the Greek-Orthodox masses must be shielded against the 
influence of alien religions and races, which should accordingly 
occupy in the Russian monarchy a position subordinate to that 
of the dominant nation. The ideas of this fanatic reactionary, 
who was dubbed " The Grand Inquisitor " and whose name was 
popularly changed into Byedonostzev, 1 carried the day at the 
Gatchina conferences. The deliberations culminated in the 
decision to refrain from making any concessions to the revolu- 
tionary element by granting reforms, however modest in char- 

[* Byedonottzev means in Russian " Misfortune-bearer/' a play 
cm the name Pobyedonostzev which signifies " Victory-bearer."] 


acter, and to maintain at all cost the regime of a police state as 
a counterbalance to the idea of a legal state prevalent in the 
" rotten West." 

Accordingly, the imperial manifesto * promulgated on April 
29, 1881, proclaimed to the people that "the Voice of God 
hath commanded us to take up vigorously the reins of gov- 
ernment, inspiring us with the belief in the strength and 
truth of autocratic power, which we are called upon to establish 
and safeguard." The manifesto " calls upon all faithful sub- 
jects to eradicate the hideous sedition and to establish faith 
and morality." The methods whereby faith and morality were 
to be established were soon made known in the " Police Con- 
stitution " which was bestowed upon Russia in August, 1881, 
under the name of " The Statute concerning Enforced Public 

This statute confers upon the Russian satraps of the capitals 
(St. Petersburg and Moscow) and of many provincial centers — 
the governors-general and the governors — the power of issuing 
special enactments and thereby setting aside the normal laws 
as well as of placing under arrest and deporting to Siberia, 
without the due process of law, all citizens suspected of " polit- 
ical unsafely." This travesty of a habeas corpus Act, insuring 
the inviolability of police and gendarmerie, and practically 
involving the suspension of the current legislation in a large 
part of the monarchy, has ever since been annually renewed by 
special imperial enactments, and has remained in force until 
our own days. The genuine u Police Constitution " of 1881 has 

[* A manifesto is a pronouncement issued by the Tzar on solemn 
occasions, such as accession to the throne, events in the imperial 
family, declaration of war, conclusion of peace, etc., accompanied, 
as a rule, by acts of grace, such as conferring privileges, granting 
pardons, and so on. Compare also above, p. 115.] 


survived the civil sham Constitution of 1905, figuring as a 
symbol of legalized lawlessness. 

2. The Initiation of the Pogrom Poliot 

The catastrophe of March 1 had the natural effect of posh- 
ing not only the Government but also a large part of the Russian 
people, who had been scared by the spectre of anarehy, in the 
direction of reactionary politics. This retrograde tendency 
was bound to affect the Jewish question. The bacillus of 
Judaeophobia * became astir in the politically immature minds 
which had been unhinged by the acts of terrorism. The influ- 
ential press organs, which maintained more or less close rela- 
tions with the leading Government spheres, adopted more and 
more a hostile attitude towards the Jews. The metropolitan 
newspaper Novoye Vremya ("The New Time")/ which at 
that time embarked upon its infamous career as the semi-official 
organ of the Russian reaction, and a number of provincial 
newspapers subsidized by the Government suddenly began to 
speak of the Jews in a tone which suggested that they were in 
the possession of some terrible secret. 

Almost on the day following the attempt on the life of the 
Tzar, the papers of this ilk began to insinuate that the Jews 
had had a hand in it, and shortly thereafter the South-Russian 
press published alarming rumors about proposed organized 
attacks upon the Jews of that region. These rumors were 
based on facts. A sinister agitation was rife among the lowest 
elements of the Russian population, while invisible hands from 
above seemed to push it on toward the commission of a gigantic 
crime. In the same month of March, mysterious emissaries 

[*The term used In Russia for anti-Semitism.] 
[• See above, p. 206.] 


from Si Petersburg made their appearance in the large cities 
of South Russia, such as Yelisavetgrad (Elizabethgrad), Kiev, 
and Odessa, and entered into secret negotiations with the high- 
est police officials concerning a possible " outburst of popular 
indignation against the Jews" which they expected to take 
place as part of the economic conflict, intimating the undesir- 
ability of obstructing the will of the Russian populace by 
police force. Figures of Great-Russian tradesmen and laborers, 
or Katzaps, as the Great Russians are designated in the Little- 
Russian South, began to make their appearance in the railroad 
cars and at the railroad stations, and spoke to the common 
people of the summary punishment soon to be inflicted upon 
the Jews or read to them anti-Semitic newspaper articles. They 
further assured them that an imperial ukase had been issued, 
calling upon the Christians to attack the Jews during the 
days of the approaching Greek-Orthodox Easter. 

Although many years have passed since these events, it has 
not yet been possible to determine the particular agency which 
carried on this pogrom agitation among the Russian masses. 
Nor has it been possible to find out to what extent the secret 
society of high officials, which had been formed in March, 1881, 
under the name of " The Sacred League," with the object of 
defending the person of the Tzar and engaging in a terroristic 
struggle with the " enemies of the public order," * was impli- 
cated in the movement. But the fact itself that the pogroms 
were carefully prepared and engineered is beyond doubt; it 
may be inferred from the circumstance that they broke out 
almost simultaneously in many places of the Russian South, 

i The League existed until the autumn of 1882. Among its 
members were Pobyedonoetzer and the anti-Jewish Minister Ig- 


and that everywhere they followed the same routine, char- 
acterized by the well-organized " activity " of the mob and the 
deliberate inactivity of the authorities. 

The first outbreak of the storm took place in Yelisavetgrad 
(Elizabethgrad), a large city in New Bussia, 1 with a Jewish 
population of fifteen thousand souls. On the eve of the Greek- 
Orthodox Easter, the local Christians, meeting on the streets 
and in the stores, spoke to one another of the fact that " the 
Zhyds are about to be beaten." The Jews became alarmed. 
The police, prepared to maintain public order during the first 
days of the Passover, called out a small detachment of soldiers. 
In consequence, the first days of the festival passed quietly, 
and on the fourth day/ on April 15, the troops were removed 
from the streets. 

At that moment the pogrom began. The organizers of the 
riots sent a drunken Bussian into a saloon kept by a Jew, 
where he began to make himself obnoxious. When the saloon- 
keeper pushed the trouble maker out into the street, the crowd, 
which was waiting outside, began to shout: " The Zhyds are 
beating our people," and threw themselves upon the Tews .vho 
happened to pass by. 

This evidently was the prearranged signal for the pogrom. 
The Jewish stores in the market-place were attacked and de- 
molished, and the goods looted or destroyed. At first, the 
police, assisted by the troops, managed somehow to disperse 
the rioters. But on the second day the pogrom was renewed 
with greater energy and better leadership, amidst the suspicious 
inactivity both of the military and police authorities. The 

[i On the term New Russia see p. 40, n. 3.] 
['The Greek-Orthodox Passover lasts officially three days, but 
an additional day is celebrated by the populace.] 


following description of the events is taken from the records 
of the official investigation which were not meant for publica- 
tion and are therefore free from the bureaucratic prevarica- 
tions characteristic of Russian public documents : 

During the night from the 15th to the 16th of April, an attack 
was made upon Jewish houses, primarily upon liquor stores, on 
the outskirts of the town, on which occasion one Jew was killed. 
About seven o'clock in the morning, on April 16, the excesses 
were renewed, spreading with extraordinary violence all over 
the city. Clerks, saloon and hotel waiters, artisans, drivers, 
flunkeys, day laborers in the employ of the Government, and 
soldiers on furlough — all of these joined the movement The city 
presented an extraordinary sight: streets covered with feathers 
and obstructed with broken furniture which had been thrown 
out of the residences; houses with broken doors and windows; a 
raging mob, running about yelling and whistling in all directions 
and continuing its work of destruction without let or hindrance, 
and, as a finishing touch to this picture, complete indifference 
displayed by the local non-Jewish inhabitants to the havoc 
wrought before their eyes. The troops which had been sum- 
moned to restore order were without definite instructions, and, 
at each attack of the mob on another house, would wait for orders 
of the military or police authorities, without knowing what to do. 
As a result of this attitude of the military, the turbulent mob, 
which was demolishing the houses and stores of the Jews before 
the eyes of the troops, without being checked by them, was bound ^ 
to arrive at the conclusion that the excesses in which it indulged 
were not an illegal undertaking but rather a work which had. 
the approval of the Government. Toward evening the dis- 
orders increased in intensity, owing to the arrival of a large num- 
ber of peasants from the adjacent villages, who were anxious 
to secure part of the Jewish loot There was no one to check 
these crowds; the troops and police were helpless. They had 
all lost heart, and were convinced that it was impossible to 
suppress the disorders with the means at hand. At eight o'clock 
at night a rain came down accompanied by a cold wind which 


helped in a large measure to disperse the crowd. At eleven 
o'clock fresh troops arrived on the spot. On the morning of April 
17 a new battalion of infantry came, and from that day on public 
order was no longer violated in Telisavetgrad. 

The news of the " victory " so easily won over the Jews of 
Yelisavetgrad aroused the dormant pogrom energy in the 
unenlightened Bussian masses. In the latter part of April riots 
took place in many villages of the Telisavetgrad district and in 
several towns and townlets in the adjoining government of 
Kherson. In the villages, the work of destruction was limited 
to the inns kept by JewB — many peasants believing that they 
were acting in accordance with imperial orders. In the towns 
and townlets, all Jewish houses and stores were demolished 
and their goods looted. In the town of Ananyev, in the gov- 
ernment of Kherson, the people were incited by a resident 
named Lashchenko, who assured his townsmen that the central 
Government had given orders to massacre the Jews because 
they had murdered the Tzar, and that these orders were pur- 
posely kept back by the local administration. The instigator 
was seized by the police, but was wrested from it by the crowd 
which thereupon threw itself upon the Jews. The riots resulted 
in some two hundred ruined houses and stores in the outskirts 
of the town, where the Jewish proletariat was cooped up. The 
central part of the town, where the more well-to-do Jews had 
their residences, was guarded by the police and by a military 
detachment, and therefore remained intact. 

3. The Pogrom at Kiev 

The movement gained constantly in momentum, and the 
instincts of the mob became more and more unbridled. The 
" Mother of Bussian cities," ancient Kiev, where at the dawn of 


Russian history the Jews, together with the Khazars, had been 
the banner-bearers of civilization, became the scene of the 
lawless fury of savage hordes. Here the pogrom was care- 
fully prepared by a secret organization which spread the rumor 
that the new Tzar had given orders to exterminate the Jews, 
who had murdered his father, and that the civil and military 
authorities would render assistance to the people, whilst those 
who would fail to comply with the will of the Tzar would meet 
with punishment. The local authorities, with Governor-Gen- 
eral Drenteln at their head, who was a reactionary and a fierce 
Jew-hater, were aware not only of the imminence of the po- 
grom, but also of the day selected for it, Sunday, April 26. 

As early as April 23 a street fight took place which was 
accompanied by assaults on Jewish passers-by — a prelude to the 
pogrom. On the day before the fateful Sunday, the Jews were 
warned by the police not to leave their houses, nor to open their 
stores on the morrow. The Jews were nonplussed. They failed 
to understand why in the capital of the governor-general, with 
its numerous troops, which, at a hint from their commander, 
were able to nip in the bud disorders of any kind, peaceful 
citizens should be told to hide themselves from an impending 
attack, instead of taking measures to forestall the attack itself. 
Nevertheless, the advice of the police was heeded, and on 
the fateful day no Jews were to be found on the streets. This, 
however, did not prevent the numerous bands of rioters from 
assembling on the streets and embarking upon their criminal 
activities. The pogrom started in Podol, a part of the town 
densely populated by Jews. The following is the description 
of an eye-witness : 

At twelve o'clock at noon, the air suddenly resounded with wild 
shouts, whistling, jeering, hooting, and laughing. An immense 


crowd of young boys, artisans, and laborers was on the march. 
The whole city was obstructed by the " bare-footed brigade." * The 
destruction of Jewish houses began. Window-panes and doors 
began to fly about, and shortly thereafter the mob, having gained 
access to the houses and stores, began to throw upon the streets 
absolutely everything that fell into their hands. Clouds of 
feathers began to whirl in the air. The din of broken window- 
panes and frames, the crying, shouting, and despair on the one 
hand, and the terrible yelling and jeering on the other, completed 
the picture which reminded many of those who had participated in 
the last Russo-Turkish war of the manner in which the Bashi- 
buzuks* had attacked Bulgarian villages. Soon afterwards the 
mob threw itself upon the Jewish synagogue, which, despite its 
strong bars, locks and shutters, was wrecked in a moment One 
should hare seen the fury with which the riff-raff fell upon the 
[Torah] scrolls, of which there were many in the synagogue. The 
scrolls were torn to shreds, trampled in the dirt, and destroyed with 
incredible passion. The streets were soon crammed with the 
trophies of destruction. Everywhere fragments of dishes, fur- 
niture, household utensils, and other articles lay scattered about. 
Barely two hours after the beginning of the pogrom, the majority 
of the " bare-footed brigade " were transformed into well-dressed 
gentlemen, many of them having grown excessively stout in the 
meantime. The reason for this sudden change was simple enough. 
Those that had looted the stores of ready-made clothes put on 
three or four suits, and, not yet satisfied, took under their arms 
all they could lay their hands on. Others drove off in vehicles, 
carrying with them bags filled with loot .... The Christian popu- 
lation saved itself from the ruinous operations of the crowd by 
placing holy ikons in their windows and painting crosses on the 
gates of their houses. 

While the pogrom was going on, troops were marching up 
and down on the streets of the Podol district, Gossaks were 

[ s The Russian nickname for a crowd of tramps.] 

[* Name of the Turkish irregular troops noted for their ferocity.] 


riding about on their horses, and patrols on foot and horse- 
back were moving to and fro. 

Here and there army officers would pass through, among them 
generals and high civil officials. The cavalry would hasten to a 
place whence the noise came. Having arrived there, it would 
surround the mob and order it to disperse, but the mob would 
only move to another place. Thus, the work of destruction pro- 
ceeded undisturbed until three o'clock in the morning. Drama 
were beaten, words of command were shouted, the crowd was 
encircled by the troops and ordered to disperse, while the mob 
continued its attacks with ever-increasing fury and savagery* 

While some of the robber bands were "busy" in Podol, 
others were active in the principal thoroughfares of the city. 
In each case, the savage and drunken mob — " not a single sober 
person could be found among them," is the testimony of an eye- 
witness — did its hideous work in the presence of soldiers and 
policemen, who in $ few instances drove off the rioters, but, 
more often, accompanied them from place to place, forming, as 
it were, an honorary escort. Occasionally, Governor-General 
Drenteln himself would appear on the streets, surrounded by a 
magnificent military suite, including the governor and chief 
of police. These representatives of State authority " admon- 
ished the people," and the latter, " preserving a funereal si- 
lence, drew back," only to resume their criminal task after the 
departure of the authorities. 

In some places there were neither troops nor police cm the 
spot, and the rioters were able to give full vent to their beastly 
instincts. Demiovka, a suburb of Kiev, was invaded by a 
horde of rioters during the night. They first destroyed the 
saloons, filling themselves with alcohol, and then proceeded 
to lay fire to the Jewish houses. Under the cover of night 
indescribable horrors were perpetrated. Numerous Jews were 


beaten to death or thrown into the flames, and many women 
were violated. A private investigation carried on subsequently 
brought out more than twenty cases of rape committed on 
Jewish girls and married women. Only two of the sufferers 
confessed their misfortune to the public prosecutor. The 
others admitted their disgrace in private or concealed it 
altogether, for fear of ruining their reputation. 

It was only on April 27 — when the pogrom broke out 
afresh — that the authorities resolved to put a stop to it 
Wherever a disorderly band made its appearance, it was im- 
mediately surrounded by soldiers and Cossaks and driven off 
with the butt ends of their rifles. Here and there it became 
necessary to shoot at these human beasts, and some of them 
were wounded or killed. The rapidity with which the pogrom 
was suppressed on the second day showed incontrovertibly 
that if the authorities had only been so minded the excesses 
might have been suppressed on the first day and the crime 
nipped in the bud. The indifference of the authorities was re- 
sponsible for the demolition of about a thousand Jewish houses 
and business places, involving a monetary loss of several mil- 
lions of rubles, not to speak of the scores of killed and wounded 
Jews and a goodly number of violated women. In the official 
reports these orgies of destruction were politely designated as 
" disorders," and The Imperial Messenger limited its account of 
the horrors perpetrated at Kiev to the following truth-per- 
verting dispatch: 

On April 26, disorders broke oat in Kiev which were directed 
against the Jews. Several Jews received blows, and their stores 
and warehouses were plundered. On the morning of the fallowing 
day the disorders were checked with the help of the troops, and 
Ave hundred men from among the rioters were arrested. 


The later laconic reports are nearer to the facts. They set 
the figure of arrested rioters at no less than fourteen hundred, 
and make mention of a number of persons who had been 
wounded during the suppression of the excesses, including one 
gymnazium and one university student. Yet even these later 
dispatches contain no reference to Jewish victims. 

4. Further Outbreaks in South Russia 
The barbarism displayed in the metropolis of the south- 
west communicated itself with the force of an infectious 
disease to the whole region. During the following days, from 
April to May, some fifty villages and a number of townlets 
in the government of Kiev and the adjacent governments of 
Yolhynia and Podolia were swept by the pogrom epidemic. 
The Jewish population of the town of Smyela * and the sur- 
rounding villages, amounting to some ten thousand souls, 
experienced, on a smaller scale, all the horrors perpetrated at 
Kiev. It was not until the second day, May 4, that the troops 
proceeded to put an end to the violence and pillage which had 
been going on in the town and which resulted in a number 
of killed and wounded. In a near-by village a Jewish woman 
of thirty was attacked and tortured to death, while the seven 
year old son of another woman, who had saved herself by flight, 
was killed in beastly fashion for his refusal to make the' sign 
of the cross. 

In many cases the pogroms had been instigated by the newly 
arrived Great-Bussian " bare-footed brigade * who having 
accomplished their "work," vanished without a trace. 

A similar horde of tramps arrived at the railway station 
of Berdychev. But in this populous Jewish center they were 
met at the station by a large Jewish guard who, armed with 

[* In the government of Kiev.] 


clubs, did not allow the visiting "performers" to leave the 
railway cars, with the result that they had to turn back. 
This rare instance of self-defence was only made possible by 
the indulgence of the local police commissioner, or Ispravnik, 
who, for a large consideration, blinked at the endeavor of the 
Jews to defend themselves against the rioters. In other places, 
similar attempts at self-defence were frustrated by the police; 
occasionally they made things worse. Such was the case in the 
town of Konotop, in the government of Chernigov, where, as 
a result of the self-defence of the Jews, the mob passed from 
plunder to murder. In the villages the ignorant peasants scru- 
pulously discharged their "pogrom duty," in the conviction 
that it had been imposed upon them by the Tzar. In one 
village in the government of Chernigov, the following char- 
acteristic episode took place. The peasants of the village 
had assembled for their work of destruction. When the rural 
chief, or Elder/ called upon the peasants to disperse, the latter 
demanded a written guarantee that they would not be held to 
account for their failure to comply with the imperial " orders " 
to beat the Jews. This guarantee was given to them. How- 
ever, the sceptical rustics were not yet convinced, and, to make 
assurance doubly sure, destroyed six Jewish houses. In various 
villages the priests found it exceedingly difficult to convince 
the peasants that no " order " had been issued to attack the 

The series of spring pogroms was capped by a three days' 
riot in the capital of the South, in Odessa (May 3-5), which 
harbored a Jewish population of 100,000. In view of the 
immense riff-raff, which is generally found in a port of entry 
of this size, the excesses of the mob might have assumed 
terrifying dimensions, had not the authorities remembered 

[* The president of the village assembly.] 


that the task entrusted to them waa not exactly that of form- 
ing an honorary escort for the rioters, as had actually been the 
case in Kiev. The police and military forces of Odessa attacked 
the rioting hordes which had spread all over the city, and, in 
most cases, succeeded in driving them off. The Jewish self- 
defence, organized and led by Jewish students of the Uni- 
versity of Odessa, managed in a number of cases to beat off 
the bloodthirsty crowds from the gates of Jewish homes. 
However, when the police began to make arrests among the 
street mob, they drew no line between the defenders and the 
assailants, with the result that among the eight hundred 
arrested persons there werg one hundred and fifty Jews, who 
were locked up on the charge of carrying fire-arms. In point of 
fact, the "arms" of the Jews consisted of clubs and iron 
rods, with the exception of a very few who were provided with 
pistols. Those arrested were loaded on three barges which 
were towed out to sea, and for several days were kept in that 
swimming jail. 

The Odessa pogrom, which had resulted in the destruction 
of several city districts populated by poor Jews, did not satisfy 
the appetites of the savage crowd, whose imagination had 
been fired by stories of the "successes* attained at Kiev. 
The mdb threatened the Jews with a new riot and even with 
a massacre. The panic resulting from this threat induced 
many Jews to flee to more peaceful places, or to leave Russia 
altogether. The same lack of completeness marked the 
pogroms which took place simultaneously in several other cities 
within the jurisdiction of the governor-general of New Bussia. 
In the beginning of May the destructive energy characterizing 
the first pogrom period began to ebb. A lull ensued in the 
" military operations " of the Bussian barbarians which con- 
tinued until the month of July of the same year. 



1. The Vacillating Attitude of the Authorities 
la the beginning of May, 1881, the well-known diplomatist 
Nicholas Pavlovich Ignatyev was called by the Tzar to the post 
of Minister of the Interior. At one time ambassador in Con- 
stantinople and at all times a militant Pan-Slavist, Ignatyev 
introduced the system of diplomatic intrigues into the inner 
politics of Russia, earning thereby the unenviable nickname of 
« Father of Lies." 

A programmatic circular, issued by him on May 6, declared 
that the principal task of the Government consisted in the 
* extirpation of sedition," t. e., in carrying on a struggle not 
only against the revolutionary movement but also against 
the spirit of liberalism in general. In this connection, Ignatyev 
took occasion to characterize the anti-Jewish excesses in the 
following typical sentences : 

The movement against the Jews which has come to light during 
the last few days in the South is a sad example, showing how men, 
otherwise devoted to Throne and Fatherland, yet yielding to 
the instigations of ill-minded agitators who fan the evil passions 
of the popular masses, give way to self-will and mob rule and, 
without being aware of it, act in accordance with the designs of 
. the anarchists. Such violation of the public order must not only 
be put down vigorously, but must also be carefully forestalled, for 
it is the first duty of the Government to safeguard the population 
against all violence and savage mob rule. 

These lines reflect the theory concerning the origin of the 
pogroms, which was originally held in the highest Government V 
spheres of St. Petersburg. This theory assumed that the 
anti-Jewish campaign had been entirely engineered by revolu- 


tionary agitators and that the latter had made deliberate 
endeavors to focus the resentment of the popular masses upon 
the Jews, as a pre-eminently mercantile class, for the purpose 
of subsequently widening the anti-Jewish campaign into a 
movement directed against the Bussian mercantile class, land- 
owners and capitalists in general. 1 Be this as it may, there can 
be no question that the Government was actually afraid lest 
the revolutionary propaganda attach itself to the agitation of 
those " devoted to Throne and Fatherland " for the. purpose 
of giving the movement a more general scope, " in accordance 
with the designs of the anarchists. 1 ' As a matter of fact, even 
outside of Government circles, the apprehension was voiced 
that the anti-Jewish movement would of itself, without any 
external stimulus, assume the form of a mob movement, di- 
rected not only against the well-to-do classes but also against 
the Government officials. On May 4, 1881, Baron Horace Gunz- 
burg, a leading representative of the Jewish community of 
St. Petersburg, waited upon Grand Duke Vladimir, a brother 
of the Tzar, who expressed the opinion that the anti-Jewish 
"disorders, as has now been ascertained by the Government, 
are not to be exclusively traced to the resentment against the 
Jews, but are rather due to the endeavor to disturb the peace 
in general." 

A week after this visit, the deputies of Bussian Jewry had 
occasion to hear the same opinion expressed by the Tzar him- 

[* John W. Foster, United States Minister to Russia, in reporting 
to the Secretary of State, cm May 24, 1881, about the recent 
excesses, which " are more worthy of the dark ages than of the 
present century," makes a similar observation: "It is asserted 
also that the Nihilist societies have profited by the situation to 
incite and encourage the peasants and lower classes of the towns 
and cities in order to increase the embarrassments of the Govern- 
ment, but the charge is probably conjectural and not based on very 
tangible facts." See House of RepretentativeM, 5Ut Oongreu, Ut 
Besiion. Executive Document No. 470, p. 55.] 

' V 

/ 1/ 


self. The Jewish deputation, consisting of Baron Giinzburg, 
the banker Sack, the lawyers Passover and Bank, and the 
learned Hebraist ^Berlin} was' awaiting this audience with 
considerable trepidation, anticipating an authoritative imperial 
verdict regarding the catastrophe that had befallen the Jews. 
On May 11, the audience took place in the palace at Gatchina. 
Baron Giinzburg voiced the sentiments of " boundless grati- 
tude for the measures adopted to safeguard the Jewish popu- 
lation at this sad moment," and added : " One more imperial 
word, and the disturbances will disappear." In reply to the 
euphemistic utterances concerning "the measures adopted," 
the Tzar stated in the same tone that all Russian subjects 
were equal before him, and expressed the assurance " that in 
the criminal disorders in the South of Russia the Jews merely 
serve as a pretext, and that it is the work of anarchists." 

This pacifying portion of the Tzar's answer was published 
in the press. What the public was not allowed to learn was 
the other portion of the answer, in which the Tzar gave 
utterance to the view that the source of the hatred against 
the Jews lay in their economic " domination " and " exploita- 
tion " of the Russian population. In reply to the arguments 
of the talented lawyer Passover and the other deputies, the 
Tzar declared : " State all this in a special memorandum." 

Such a memorandum was subsequently prepared. But it 
was not submitted to the Tzar. For only a few months later 
the official attitude towards the Jewish question took a turn 
for the worse. The Government decided to abandon its former 
view on the Jewish pogroms and to adopt, instead, the theory 
of Jewish "exploitation," using it as a means of justifying 
not only the pogroms which had already been perpetrated upon 
the Jews but also the repressive measures which were being 
contemplated against them. Under these circumstances, 


Ignatyer did not see his way clear to allow the memorandum in 
defence of Jewry to receive the attention of the Tzar. 

It is not impossible that the pacifying portion of the imperial 
reply which had been given at the audience of Hay 11 was 
also prompted by the desire to appease the public opinion of 
Western Europe, for at that time European opinion still 
carried some weight with the bureaucratic circles of Russia. 
Several days before the audience at Gatchina, 1 the English 
Parliament discussed the question of Jewish persecutions in 
Russia. In the House of Commons the Jewish members, Baron. 
Henry de Worms and Sir H. D. Wolff, calling attention to the 
case of an English Jew who had been expelled from St* Peten- 
burg, interpellated the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs, Sir Charles Dilke, " whether Her Majesty's Govern- 
ment have made any representations to the Government at 
Si Petersburg, with regard to the atrocious outrages com- 
mitted on the Jewish population in Southern Russia." Dilke 
replied that the English Government was not sure whether 
such a protest " would be likely to be efficacious" * 

A similar reply was given by the Secretary of State for 
Foreign Affairs, Lord Granville, to a joint deputation of the 
Anglo-Jewish Association and the Board of Deputies, two 
leading Anglo-Jewish bodies, which waited upon him on 
May 13," two days after the Gatchina audience. After ex- 
pressing his warm sympathy with the objects of the depu- 

[* Ob May 16 and 19=May 4 and 7, according to the Russian 

[•The Russian original has been amended in a few places in 
accordance with the report of the parliamentary proceedings 
published in the Jewish Chronicle of May 20, 1881.] 

[•May 26, according to the European Calendar. From the 
issue of the Jewish Chronicle of May 27, 1881, p. 12*, it weald 
appear that the deputation was received on Tuesday, May 24.] 



tattoo, the Secretary pointed out the inexpediency of any 
interference on the part of England at a moment when the 
Russian Government itself was adopting measures against the 
pogroms, referring to "the cordial reception lately given by 
the emperor to a deputation of Jews " 

Subsequent events soon made it clear that the Government, 
represented by Ignatyev, was far from harboring any sym- 
pathy for the victims of the pogroms. The public did not 
fail to notice the fact that the Russian Government, which 
was in the habit of rendering financial help to the population 
in the ease of elemental catastrophes, such as conflagrations 
or inundations, had refrained from granting the slightest 
monetary assistance to the Jewish sufferers from the pogroms. 
Apart from its material usefulness, such assistance would 
have had an enormous moral effect, inasmuch as it would have 
stood forth in the public eye as an official condemnation of 
the violent acts perpetrated against the Jews — particularly 
if the Tzar himself had made a large donation for that 
purpose, as he was wont to do in other cases of this kind. As 
it was, the authorities not only neglected to take such a step, 
but they even went so far as to forbid the Jews of St. Peters- 
burg to start a public collection for the relief of the pogrom 
victims. Nay, the governor-general of Odessa refused to 
accept a large sum of money offered to him by well-to-do Jews 
for the benefit of the sufferers. 

Nor was this the worst. The local authorities did every-' 
thing in their power to manifest their solidarity with the 
enemies of Judaism. The street pogroms were followed by 
administrative pogroms sui generis. Already in the month of 
May, the police of Kiev began to track all the Jews residing 


" illegally " in that city * and to expel these "criminals " by 
the thousands. Similar wholesale expulsions took place in 
Moscow, Oryol, and other places outside the Pale of Settle- 
ment. These persecutions constituted evidently an object- 
lesson in religious toleration, and the Russian masses which 
had but recently shown to what extent they respected the in- 
violability of Jewish life and properly took the lesson to heart. 
One hope was still left to the Jews. The law courts, at 
least, being the organs of the public conscience of Russia, 
were bound to condemn severely the sinister pogrom heroes. 
But this hope, too, proved illusory. In the majority of cases 
the judges treated acts of open pillage and of violence com- 
mitted against life and limb as petty street brawls, as " dis- 
turbances of the public peace," and imposed upon their 
perpetrators ridiculously slight penalties, such as three months' 
imprisonment — penalties, moreover, which were simultane- 
ously inflicted upon the Jews who, as in the case of Odessa, 
had resorted to self-defence. When the terrible Kiev pogrom 
was tried in the local Military Circuit Court, the public prose- 
cutor Strelnikov, a well-known reactionary who subsequently 
met his fate at the hands of the revolutionaries, delivered 
himself on May 18 of a speech which was rather an indictment 
against the Jews than against the rioters. He argued that 
these disorders had been called forth entirely by the a exploita- 
tion of the Jews/' who had seized the principal economic posi- 
tions in the province, and he conducted his cross-examination 
of the Jewish witnesses in the same hostile spirit. When one 
of the witnesses retorted that the aggravation of the economic 
struggle was due to the artificial congestion of the Jews in 

[* It will be remembered that the right of residence in Kiev 
restricted in the case of the Jews to a few categories: first-guild 
merchants, graduates from institutions of higher learning; and 


the pent-up Pale of Settlement, the prosecutor shouted: " If 
the Eastern frontier is closed to the Jews, the Western frontier 
is open to them ; why don't they take advantage of it? " This 
summons to leave the country, doubly revolting in the mouth 
of a guardian of the law, addressed to those who under the 
influence of the pogrom panic had already made up their 
minds to flee from the land of slavery, produced a staggering 
effect upon the Jewish public. The last ray of hope, the hope 
for legal justice, vanished. The courts of law had become 
a weapon in the hands of the anti-Jewish leaders. 


2. The Pogrom Panic and the Beginning of the Exodus 

The feeling of safety, which had been restored by the pub- 
lished portion of the imperial reply at the audience of May 11, 
was rapidly evaporating. The Jews were again filled with 
alarm, while the instigators of the pogroms took courage 
and decided that the time had arrived to finish their inter- 
rupted street performance. The early days of July marked 
the inauguration of the second series of riots, the so-called 
summer pogroms. 

The new conflagration started in the city of Pereyaslav, 
in the government of Poltava, which had not yet discarded its 
anti-Jewish Cossack traditions. 1 Pereyaslav at that time har- 
bored many fugitives from Kiev, who had escaped from the 
spring pogroms in that city. The increase in the Jewish 
population of Pereyaslav was evidently displeasing to the 
local Christian inhabitants. Four hundred and twenty Chris- 
tian burghers of Pereyaslav, avowed believers in the Gospels 
which enjoin Christians to love those that suffer, passed a 
resolution calling for the expulsion of the Jews from their 
city, and, in anticipation of this legalized violence, they 
decided to teach the Jews a " lesson " on their own responsi- 

[* Comp. Vol. I, p. 145.] 


bility. On June 30 and July 1, Ptereyaslav wa* the scene of 
a pogrom, marked by all the paraphernalia of the Russian 
ritual, though unaccompanied this time by human sacrifices. 
The epilogue to the pogrom was marked by an originality of 
its own. A committee consisting of representatives of the mu- 
nicipal administration, four Christians and three Jews, was 
appointed to inquire into the causes of the disorders. This 
committee was presented by the local Christian burghers with 
a set of demands, some of which were in substance as follows : 
That the Jewish aldermen of the Town Council, as well as the 
Jewish members of the other municipal bodies, shall voluntarily 
resign from these honorary posts, "as men deprived of civic 
honesty" 1 ; that the Jewish women shall not dress themselves 
in silk, velvet, and gold; that the Jews shall refrain from keeping 
Christian domestics, who are "corrupted" in the Jewish homes 
religiously and morally; that all Jewish strangers, who have 
sought refuge in Pereyaalav, shall be immediately banished; that 
the Jews shall be forbidden to buy provisions in the surrounding 
villages for reselling them; also, to carry on business an Sundays 
and Russian festivals, to keep saloons, and so on. 

Thus, in addition to being ruined, the Jews were presented 
with an ultimatum, implying the threat of further " military 

As in previous cases, the example of the city of Pereyaslav 
was followed by the townlets and villages in the surrounding 
region. The unruliness of the crowd, which had been trained 
to destroy and plunder with impunity, knew no bounds. In 

1 This insolent demand of the unenlightened Russian burghers 
met with the following dignified rebuttal from the Jewish office- 
holders: M What bitter mockery! The Jews are accused of a lack 
of honesty by the representatives of those very people who, with 
clubs and hatchets in their hands, fell in murderous hordes upon 
their peaceful neighbors and plundered their property." The 
replies to the other demands of the burghers were couched in 
similar terms. 


the neighboring town of Borispol a crowd of rioters, stimulated 
by alcohol, threatened to pass from pillage to murder. When 
checked by the poUoe and Cossacks, they threw themselves 
with fury upon these untoward defenders of the Jewish popu- 
lation, and began to maltreat them, until a few rifle shots put 
them to flight. 

The same was the case in Nyezhin, 1 where a pogrom was 
enacted on July 20 and 22. After several vain attempts to 
stop the riots, the military was forced to shoot at the infuriated 
crowd, killing and wounding some of them. This was followed 
by the cry : " Christian blood is flowing — beat the Jews ! " — 
and the pogrom was renewed with redoubled vigor. It was 
stopped only oh the third day. 

The energy of the July pogroms had evidently spent itself 
in these last ferocious attempts. The murderous hordes 
realized that the police and military were fully in earnest, and 
this was enough to sober them from their pogrom intoxica- 
tion. Towards the end of July, the epidemic of vandalism 
came to a stop, though it was followed in many cities by a 
large number of conflagrations. The cowardly rioters, deprived 
of the opportunity of plundering the Jews with impunity, 
began to set fire to Jewish neighborhoods. This was particu- 
larly the case in the north-western provinces, in Lithuania and 
White Bussia, where the authorities had from the very begin- 
ning set their faces firmly against all organized violence. 

The series of pogroms perpetrated during the spring and 
summer of that year had inflicted its sufferings on more than 
one hundred localities populated by Jews, primarily in the 
South of Bussia. Yet the misery engendered by the panic, 
by the horrible apprehension of unbridled violence, was far 
more extensive, for the entire Jewish population of Bussia 

[ x In the government of Chernigov.] 


proved its victim. Just as in the bygone Middle Ages when- 
ever Jewish suffering had reached a sad climax, so now too the 
persecuted nation found itself face to face with the problem 
of emigration. And as if history had been anxious to link up 
the end of the nineteenth century with that of the fifteenth, 
the Jewish afflictions in Russia found an echo in that very 
country, which in 1492 had herself banished the Jews from 
her borders: the Spanish Government announced its readi- 
ness to receive and shelter the fugitives from Russia. Ancient 
Catholic Spain held forth a welcoming hand to the victims 
of modern Greek-Orthodox Spain. However, the Spanish offer 
was immediately recognized as having but little practical value. 
In the forefront of Jewish interest stood the question as to 
the land toward which the emigration movement should be 
directed: toward the United States of America, which held 
out the prospect of bread and liberty, or toward Palestine, 
which offered a shelter to the wounded national soul. 

While the Jewish writers were busy debating the question, 
life itself decided the direction of the emigration movement. 
Nearly all fugitives from the South of Russia had left for 
America by way of the Western European centers. The 
movement proceeded with elemental force, and entirely un- 
organized, with the result that in the autumn of that year some 
ten thousand destitute Jewish wanderers found themselves 
huddled together at the first halting-place, the city of Brody, 
which is situated on the Busso- Austrian frontier. They had 
been attracted hither by the rumor that the agents of the 
French Alliance Israelite Universale would supply them with 
the necessary means for continuing their journey across the 
Atlantic. The central committee of the Alliance, caught un- 
prepared for such a huge emigration, was at its wit's end. 


It sent out appeals, warning the Jews against wholesale emi- 
gration to America by way of Brody, but it was powerless 
to stem the tide. When the representatives of the French 
Alliance, the well-known Charles Netter and others, arrived 
in Brody, they beheld a terrible spectacle. The streets of the 
city were filled with thousands of Jews and Jewesses, who were 
exhausted from material want, with hungry children in their 
arms. " From early morning until late at night, the French 
delegates were surrounded by a crowd clamoring for help. 
Their way was obstructed by mothers who threw their little 
ones under their feet, begging to rescue them from starvation." 
The delegates did all they could, but the number of fugi- 
tives was constantly swelling, while the process of dispatching 
them to America went on at a snail's pace. The exodus of 
the Jews from Russia was due not only to the pogroms and 
the panic resulting from them, but also to the new blows 
which were falling upon them from all sides, dealt out by the 
liberal hand of Ignatyev. 

3. The Gubernatorial Commissions 

After wavering for some time, the anti-Semitic Govern- 
ment of Ignatyev finally made up its mind as to the attitude 
it was henceforth to adopt towards the Jewish problem. Taken 
aback at the beginning of the pogrom movement, the leading 
spheres of Bussia were first inclined to ascribe it to the effects 
of the revolutionary propaganda, but they afterwards came 
to the conclusion that, in the interest of the reactionary policies 
pursued by them and as a means of justifying the disgraceful 
anti-Jewish excesses before the eyes of Europe, it was more 
convenient to throw the blame upon the Jews themselves. 
With this end in view, a new theory was put forward by the 



Russian Government, the quasi-economic doctrine of "the 
exploitation of the original population by the Jews." This 
doctrine consisted of two parts, which, properly speaking, were 
mutually exclusive: 

First, the Jews, as a pre-eminently mercantile class, engage 
in u unproductive " labor, and thereby " exploit " the produc- 
tive classes of the Christian population, the peasantry in par- 

Second, the Jews, having " captured " commerce and indus- 
try — here the large participation of the Jews in industrial life, 
represented by handicrafts and manufactures, is tacitly ad- 
mitted—compete with the Christian urban estates, in other 
words, interfere with them in tbeir own " exploitation " of the 

The first part of this strange theory is based upon primi- 
tive economic notions, such as are in vogue during periods of 
transition, when natural economic production gives way to 
capitalism, and when all complicated forms of mediation are 
regarded as unproductive and harmful. The thought expressed 
in the second part of the thesis is implied in the make-up 
of a police state, which looks upon the occupation of certain 
economic positions by a given national group as an illegitimate 
" capture " and regards it as its function to check this com- 
petition for the sole purpose of insuring the success of the 
dominant nationality. 

The Russian Government was disturbed neither by the 
primitive character of this theory nor by the resort to brutal 
police force implied in it — the idea of supporting the " exploi- 
tation" practised by the Russians at the expense of that 
carried on by the Jews; nor was it abashed by its inner logical 
contradictions. What the Government needed was some means 


wherebj it oould throw off the responsibility for the pogroms 
and prove to the world that they were a " popular judgement," 
the vengeance wreaked upon the Jews either by the peasants, 
the victims of exploitation, or by the Busman burghers, the 
unsuccessful candidates for the role of exploiters. This point 
of view was reflected in the report of Count Kutaysov, who 
had been sent by the Tzar to South Bussia to inquire into 
the causes of the " disorders." a 

Ignatyev seized upon this flimsy theory, and embodied it in a 
more elaborate form in his report to the Tzar of August 22. In 
this report he endeavored to prove the futility of the policy 
hitherto pursued by the Russian Government which " for the 
last twenty years [during the reign of Alexander II.] had 
made efforts to bring about the fusion of the Jews with the 
remaining population and had nearly equalized the rights of 
the Jews with those of the original inhabitants." In the 
opinion of the Minister, the recent pogroms had shown that 
" the injurious influence " of the Jews could not be suppressed 
by such liberal measures. 

The principal source of tbJs movement [the pogroms], which 
is so incompatible with the temper of the Russian people, lies— 
according to Ignatyev— in circumstances which are of an exclu- 
sively economic nature. For the last twenty years the Jews have 
gradually managed to capture not only commerce and industry 
hut they nave also suc ceeded in acquiring, by means of purchase 
and lease, a large amount of landed property. Owing to their clan- 
nishness and solidarity, they have, with few exceptions, directed 

a It may be added that Kutaysov recognized tyat the Russian 
masses were equally the victims of the commercial exploitation 
of the Russian " bosses," but was at a loss to find a reason for the 
pogroms perpetrated in the Jewish agricultural colonies, i. e., 
against those who, according to this theory, were themselves the 
victims of exploitation. 


their efforts not towards the increase of the productive forces 
[of the country] hut towards the exploitation of the original in* 
habitants, primarily of the poorest classes of the population, with 
the result that they have called forth a protest from this popula- 
tion, manifesting itself in deplorable forms — in violence .... 
Having taken energetic means to suppress the previous disorders 
and mob rule and to shield the Jews against violence, the Govern- 
ment recognizes that it is justified in adopting, without delay, 
no less energetic measures to remove the present abnormal rela- 
tions that exist between the original inhabitants and the Jews, 
and to shield the Russian population against this harmful Jewish 
activity, which, according to local information, was responsible 
for the disturbances. 

Alexander III. hastened to express his agreement with these 
views of his Minister, who assured him that the Government 
had taken " energetic measures " to suppress the pogroms — 
which was only true in two or three recent cases. At the same 
time he authorized Ignatyev to adopt " energetic measures * 
of genuine Sussian manufacture against those who had but 
recently been ruined by these pogroms. 

The imperial ukase published on August 22, 1881, dwells 
on "the abnormal relations subsisting between the original 
population of several governments and the Jews." To meet 
this situation it provides that in those governments which 
harbor a considerable Jewish population special commissions 
should be appointed consisting of representatives of the local 
estates and communes, to be presided over by the governors. 
These commissions were charged with the task of finding out 
" which aspects of the economic activity of the Jews in general 
have exerted an injurious influence upon the life of the original 
population, and what measures, both legislative and adminis- 
trative, should be adopted " for the purpose of weakening that 
influence. In this way, the ukase, in calling for the appoint- 


ment of the commissions, indicated at once the goal towards 
which their activity was to be directed: to determine the 
" injurious influence " of the Jews upon Russian economic life. 

The same thought was expressed even more directly by 
Ignatyev, who in his circular to the governors-general, dated 
August 25, reproduced his report to the Tzar, and firmly 
established the dogma of "the harmful consequences of the 
economic activity of the Jews for the Christian population, 
their racial separatism, and religious fanaticism." 

We are thus made the witnesses of a singular spectacle: 
the ruined and plundered Jewish population, which had a 
right to impeach the Government for having failed to pro- 
tect it from violence, was itself put on trial. The judges in 
this legal action were none other than the agents of the ruling 
powers — the governors, some of whom had been guilty of con- 
nivance at the pogroms — on the one hand, and, on the other 
hand, the representatives of the Christian estates, urban and 
rural, who were mostly the appointees of these governors. In 
addition, every commission was allotted two Jewish represen- 
tatives, who were to act in the capacity of experts but without 
voting power; they were placed in the position of defendants, 
and were made to listen to continuous accusations against the 
Jews, which they were constantly forced to deny. Altogether 
there were sixteen such commissions: one in each of the 
fifteen governments of the Pale of Settlement — exclusive of 
the Kingdom of Poland— and one in the government of Khar- 
kov. The commissions were granted a term of two months 
within which to complete their labors and present the results 
to the. Minister. 

The sessions of all these " gubernatorial commissions" 1 

[ x In Russian, Ghubernskiya KommU&ii, literally, " Government 
Commissions," using " Government " in the sense of " Province."] 



took place simultaneously during the months of September 
and October. 

The prisoner at the bar was the Jewish people which was 
tried on the charges contained in the official bill of indict- 
ment — the imperial ukase as supplemented and interpreted 
in the ministerial circular. A well-informed contemporary 
gives the following description of these sessions in an official 
memorandum : 

The first session of each commission began with the reading of 
the ministerial circular of August 25.. The reading inrariahly pro- 
duced a strong effect in two different directions: on the members 
from among the peasantry and on those from among the Jews. The 
former became convinced of the hostile attitude of the Govern- 
ment towards the Jewish population and of their leniency towards 
the instigators of the disorders, which, according to an assertion 
made in IgnatyeVs circular, were due exclusively to the Jewish 
exploitation of the original inhabitants. Needless to say, the 
peasants did not fail to communicate this conviction, which waa 
strengthened at the subsequent sessions by the failure to put any 
restraint upon the wholesale attacks on the Jews on the part of 
the anti-Semitic members, to their rural communes. 

As for the Jewish members (of the commissions ), the effect of 
the ministerial circular upon them was staggering. In their own 
persons they beheld the three millions of Russiaji Jewry placed 
at the prisoner's bar: one section of the population put on trial 
before another. And who were the judges? Not the representa- 
tives of the people, duly elected by all the estates of the population, 
such as the rural assemblies, but the agents of the administration, 
bureaucratic office-holders, who were more or less subordinate to 
the Government The court proceedings themselves were carried 
on in secret, without a sufficient number of counsel for the 
defendants who in reality were convicted beforehand. The atti- 
tude adopted by the presiding governors, the speeches delivered 
by the anti-Semitic members, who were in an overwhelming ma- 
jority, and characterized by attacks, derisive remarks, and subtle 


affronts, subjected the Jewish members to moral torture and made 
them lose all hope that they could be of any assistance in attempt- 
ing a dispassionate, impartial, and comprehensive consideration of 
the question. In the majority of the commissions, their voice was 
suppressed and silenced. In these circumstances the Jewish mem- 
bers were forced, as a last resort, to defend the interests of their 
coreligionists in writing, by submitting memoranda and separate 
opinions. However, the instances were rare in which these mem- 
oranda and protests were dignified by being read during the 

This being the case, it is not to be wondered at that the 
commissions brought in their " verdicts " in the spirit of the 
indictment framed by the authorities. The anti-Semitic 
officials exhibited their cc learning " in ignorant criticisms of the 
"spirit of Judaism/' of the Talmud and the national separa- 
tism of the Jews, and they proposed to extirpate all these influ- 
ences by means of cultural repression, such as the destruction of 
the autonomy of the Jewish communities, the closing up of all 
special Jewish schools, and the placing of all phases of the inner 
life of the Jews under Government control. The representa- 
tives of the Russian burghers and peasants, many of whom had 
but recently co-operated or, at least, sympathized with the 
perpetrators of the pogroms, endeavored to prove the economic 
" injuriousness " of the Jews, and demanded that they should 
be restricted in their urban and rural pursuits, as well as in 
their right of residence outside the cities. Notwithstanding 
the prevailing spirit, five commissions voiced the opinion, 
which, from the point of view of the Russian Government, 
seemed rank heresy, that it was necessary to grant the Jews 
the right of domicile all over the empire so as to relieve the 
excessive congestion of the Jewish population in the Pale of 


4. The Spbsad of anti-Sbmitibm 

While the gubernatorial commissions — gubernatorial in the 
literal sense of the word, because entirely dominated by the 
governors — were holding their sessions, the satraps-in-chief 
of the Pale of Settlement, the governors-general, were busy 
sending their expressions of opinion to St. Petersburg. The 
governor-general of Kiev, Drenteln, who himself was liable 
* to prosecution for allowing a two days' pogrom in his Own 
residential city, condemned the entire Jewish people in em- 
phatic terms, and demanded the adoption of measures calcu- 
lated " to shield the Christian population against so arrogant 
a tribe as the Jews, who refuse on religious grounds to have 
close contact with the Christians." It was necessary, in his 
opinion, to resort to legal repression in order to counteract 
" the intellectual superiority of the Jews/' which enables them 
to emerge victorious in the struggle for existence. 

Similar condemnations of Judaism came from the governors- 
general of Odessa, Yilna, and Kharkov, although they dis- 
agreed as to the dimensions which this repression should 
assume. Totleben, the master of the Yilna province, who 
had refused to countenance the perpetration of pogroms in 
Lithuania, nevertheless agreed that the Jews should hence- 
forth be forbidden to settle in the villages, though he was gen- 
erous enough to add that he found it somewhat inconvenient 
" to rob the whole Jewish nation of the possibility of earning 
a livelihood by its labor/' The impression prevailed that 
jt militant Judaeophobia was determined to deprive the Jews 
even of the right of securing a piece of bread. 

The Government was well aware beforehand that the labors 
of the gubernatorial commissions would yield results satis- 
factory to it It, therefore, found it unnecessary to wait for 


their reports and resolutions, and proceeded to establish in 
St. Petersburg, on October 19, "a Central Committee for 
the Revision of the Jewish Question/' The committee was 
attached to the Ministry of the Interior, and consisted of 
several officials, under the chairmanship of Assistant-Minister 
Gotovtzev. The officials were soon busy framing " temporary 
measures " in the spirit of their patron Ignatyev, and, as the 
resolutions of the gubernatorial commissions were coming in, 
they were endeavoring to strengthen the foundations for the 
projected enactment. In January, 1882, the machinery for the 
manufacture of Jewish disabilities was in full swing. 

This organized campaign of the enemies of Judaism, who 
were preparing administrative pogroms as a sequel to the street 
pogroms, met with no organized resistance on the part of 
Bussian Jewry. The small conference of Jewish notables in 
St. Petersburg, which met in September in secret session, 
presented a sorry spectacle. The guests from the provinces, 
who had been invited by Baron Giinzburg, engaged in dis- 
cussions about the problem of emigration, the struggle with 
the anti-Semitic press, and similar questions. After being 
presented to Ignatyev, who assured them in diplomatic fashion 
of the "benevolent intentions of the Government," they re- 
turned to their homes, without having achieved anything. 

The only social factor in Jewish life was the press, particu- 
larly the three periodicals published in Bussian, the Razsvyet 
("the Dawn"), the Russhi Tmrey ("the Bussian Jew"), 
and the Voskhod ("the Sunrise"), 1 but even they revealed 
the lack of a well-defined policy. 

The political movements in Bussian Jewry were yet in an 
embryonic stage, and their rise and development were reserved 

P Set on these papers, p. 219 ct teg.] 


for a later period. True, the Bas«ian-Jewi*h pmi applied 
itself assiduously to the task of defending the rights of the 
Jews, bat its voice remained unheard in thoee cfreiee of Russia 
in which the poisonous waters of Judaeophobia gushed forth in 
a broad current from the columns of the semi-official Novoye 
Vremya, the pan-Slavic Buss, and many of their anti-Semitic 
t While the summer pogroms were in full swing; the Novoy* 
Vremya, reflecting the views of the official spheres, seriously 
formulated the Jewish question in the paraphrase of Hamlet : 
" to beat or not to beat " Its conclusion was that it was neces- 
sary to " beat " the Jews, but, in view of the fact that Russia 
was a monarchical state with conservative tendencies, this 
function ought not to be discharged by the people but by the 
Government, which by its method of legal repression could beat 
the Jews much more effectively than the crowds on the streets. 
The editor of the Moscow newspaper Russ, Ivan Aksakov,* 
attacked the Russian liberal press for expressing its sympathy 
with the Jewish pogrom victims, contending that the Russian 
people demolished the Jewish houses under the effect of a 
"righteous indignation," though he failed to explain why 
that inaignation also took the form of plundering and stealing 
Jewish property, or violating Jewish women. Throwing into 
one heap the arguments of the medieval Church and those of 
modern German anti-Semitism, Aksakov maintained that 
Judaism was opposed to "Christian civilization," and that 
the Jewish people were striving for €t world domination " which 
they hoped to attain through their financial power. 

The bacillus of German anti-Semitism had penetrated even 
into the circles of the Russian radical intelligenzia. Amnng 

[* Compare above, p. 208.] 


the "Populists,"* who were wont to idealize the Bussian 
peasantry, it became the fashion to look upon the Jew as an 
economic exploiter, with this distinction, however, that they 
bracketed him with the host of Russian exploiters from among 
the bourgeois class. This resulted in a most unfortunate 
misunderstanding. A faction of South Russian revolutionaries 
from among the party known as u The People's Freedom " * 
conceived the idea that the same peasants and laborers who had 
attacked the Jews as the representatives of the non-Russian 
bourgeoisie might easily be directed against the representa- 
tives of the ruling classes in general. During the spring and 
summer pogroms, several attempts were made by mysterious 
persons, through written appeals and oral propaganda, to turn 
the pogrom movement also against the Bussian nobles and 
officials.* Towards the end of August, 1881, the Executive 
Committee of " The People's Freedom " issued an appeal in 
which it voiced the thought that the Tzar had enslaved the 
free Ukrainian people and had distributed the lands rightfully 
belonging to the peasants among the pans 4 and officials, who 
extended their protection to the Jews and shared the profits 
with them. Therefore, the people should march against the 
Jews, the landlords, and the Tzar. " Assist us, therefore," the 
appeal continues, "arise, laborers, avenge yourselves on the 
landlords, plunder the Jews, and slay the officials ! " 

True, the appeal was the work of only a part of the Revolu- 
tionary Executive Committee, which at that time had its head- 

I 1 See above, p. 222.] 

[ a In Russian, Narodnaya Tola. It was organized in 1879, and 
was responsible for the assassination of Alexander II.] 

• These endeavors were evidently the reason why the Russian 
Government was originally Inclined to ascribe the anti-Jewish 
movement to revolutionary tactics. 

[ 4 The Polish noble landowners. See vol. I, p. 93, n. 2.] 


quarters in Moscow. It failed to obtain the approval of the 
other members of the Committee and of the party as a whole, 
and, being a document that might compromise the revolu- 
tionary movement, was withdrawn and destroyed after a 
number of copies had been circulated. Nevertheless, the 
champions of "The People's Freedom'' continued for some 
time to justify theoretically the utilization of the anti- 
Jewish movement for the aims of the general social revolution. 
Only at a later stage did this section of the revolutionary party 
realize that these tactics were not only mistaken but also crimi- 
nal. For events soon made it clear that the anti-Jewish 
movement served as an unfailing device in the hands of the 
black reactionaries to divert the popular wrath from the source 
of all evil — the rule of despotism — and direct it towards the 
most unfortunate victims of that despotism. 

5. The Pogrom at Warsaw 

When the July pogroms were over, it seemed as if the pogrom 
epidemic had died out, and no one expected that it would soon 
break out afresh. The greater was the surprise when, in 
December, 1881, the news spread that a pogrom, lasting three 
days, had taken place in the capital of the Kingdom of Poland, 
in Warsaw. Least of all was this pogrom expected in Warsaw 
itself, where the relations between the Poles and the Jews 
were not yet marked by the animosity they assumed subse- 
quently. But the organizers of the pogrom who received their 
orders from above managed to adapt themselves to local condi- 
tions, and the unexpected came to pass. On the Catholic 
Christmas day, when the Church of the Holy Cross in the 
center of the town was crowded with worshippers, somebody 
suddenly shouted u Fire ! " The people rushed to the doors, 


and in the terrible panic that ensued twenty-nine persons were 
crashed to death, and many others were maimed. The alarm 
proved a false one. There was no trace of a fire in the church, 
and nobody doubted but that the alarm had been given by pick- 
pockets — there, were a goodly number of them in Warsaw — 
who had resorted to this well-known trick to rob the public 
during the panic. But right there, among the crowd which 
was assembled in front of the church, gazing in horror at the 
bodies of the victims, some unknown persons spread the 
rumor — which, it may be parenthetically remarked, proved 
subsequently unfounded — that two Jewish pickpockets had 
been caught in the church. 

At that moment whistles were suddenly heard — nobody 
knew whence they came — which served as the signal for a 
pogrom. The street mob began to assault the Jews who hap- 
pened to pass by, and then started, according to the established 
procedure, to attack the Jewish stores, saloons, and residences 
in the streets adjoining the church. The hordes were under 
the command of thieves, well known to the police, and of some 
unknown strangers who from time to time gave signals by 
whistling, and directed the mob into this or that street. As 
in all other cases in which the danger did not threaten the 
authorities directly, there were but few policemen and soldiers 
on hand — which circumstance stimulated the rioters in their 
further activity. 

On the following day the rioters were " busy " on many other 
streets, both in the center of the town and in its outskirts, 
except for the streets which were densely populated by Jews, 
where they were afraid of meeting with serious resistance. 1 

1 In some places the Jews defended themselves energetically, and 
in the ensuing fight there were wounded on both sides. 


The police and the troope arrested many rioters, and carried 
them off to the police stations. But for some unknown reason 
they did not summon enough courage to disperse the crowd, 
so that the mob frequently engaged in its criminal work 
in the very presence of the guardians of public safety. 

In accordance with the well-known pogrom routine, the 
authorities remembered only on the third day that it was 
time to suppress the riots, the "lesson" being over. On 
December 15, the governor-general of Warsaw, Albedinski, 
issued an order dividing the town into four districts and 
placing every district under the command of a regimental 
chief. Troops were stationed in the streets and ordered to 
check all crowds, with the result that on the same day the 
disorders were stopped. 

This, however, came too late. For in the meantime some 
fifteen hundred Jewish residences, business places, and houses 
of prayer had been demolished and pillaged, and twenty-four 
Jews had been wounded, while the monetary loss amounted 
to several million rubles. Over three thousand rioters were 
arrested — among them a large number of under-aged youths. 
On the whole, the rioters were recruited from the dregs of the 
Polish population, but there were also found among them 
a number of unknown persons that spoke Russian. The 
Novoye Vremya, in commenting upon the pogrom, made 
special reference to the friendly attitude of the Polish hooli- 
gans to the Russians in general and to the officers and soldiers 
in particular — a rather suspicious attitude, considering the 
inveterate hatred of the Poles towards the Russians, especially 
towards the military and official class. Here and there the 
soldiers themselves got drunk in the demolished saloons, and 
took part in looting Jewish property. 


The Polish patriots from among the higher classes were 
shocked by this attempt to engineer a barbarous Russian 
pogrom in Warsaw. In an appeal which the representatives 
of the Polish intellectuals addressed to the people not later 
than on the second day of the pogrom they protested emphat- 
ically against the hideous scenes which had been disgracing the 
capital of Poland. The archbishop of Warsaw acted similarly, 
and the Catholic priests frequently marched through the streets 
with crosses in their hands, admonishing the crowds to dis- 
perse. It is interesting to note that, while the pogrom was 
going on, the governor-general of Warsaw refused to comply 
with the request of a number of Poles, who applied for per- 
mission to organize a civil guard, pledging themselves to 
restore order in the city in one day. It would seem as if 
the official pogrom ritual did not allow of the slightest modifi- 
cation. The disorders had to proceed in accordance with the 
established routine, so as not to violate the humane com- 
mandment: "Two days shalt thou plunder, and on the third 
day shalt thou rest" Evidently some one had an interest 
in having the capital of Poland repeat the experiment of 
Kiev and Odessa, and in seeing to it that the " cultured Poles " 
should not fall behind the Russian barbarians in order to 
convince Europe that the pogrom was not exclusively a Russian 

As a matter of fact, the opposite result was attained. The 
revolting events at Warsaw, which completed the pogrom 
cycle of 1881, made a much stronger impression upon Europe 
and America than all the preceding pogroms, for the reason 
that Warsaw stood in close commercial relations with the West, 
and the havoc wrought there had an immediate effect upon 
the European market. 




L Thb Dbspaib of Russiah Jbwky 

The civil New Year of 1882 found the Jews of Russia in 
a depressed state of mind : they were under the fresh impres- 
sion of the excesses at Warsaw and were harassed by rumors 
of new measures of oppression. The sufferings of the Jewish 
people, far from stilling the anti-Jewish fury of the Gov-* 
eminent, had merely helped to fan it. "You are mal- 
treated, ergo you are guilty n — such was the logic of the ruling 
spheres of Russia. The official historian of that period is 
honest enough to confess that " the enforced role of a defender 
of the Jews against the Russian population [by suppressing 
the riots] weighed heavily upon the Government." Upon 
reading the report of the governor-general of Warsaw for the 
year 1882, in which reference was made to the suppression of 
the anti-Jewish excesses by military force, Alexander III. ap- 
pended the following marginal note: "This is the sad thing 
in all these Jewish disorders." 

Those among Russian Jewry who could look further ahead 
were not slow in realizing the consequences which were bound 
to result from this hostile attitude of the ruling classes. Those 
of a less sensitive frame of mind found it necessary to inquire 
of the Government itself concerning the Jewish future, and 
received unequivocal replies. Thus, in January, 1882, Dr. 
Orshanski, a brother of the well-known publicist,* approached 

[* See above, p. 238 et $eq.} 


Count Ignatyev on the subject, and was authorized to publish 

the following statement: 

The Western frontier Is ctfen for the Jews. The Jews have 
already taken ample advantage of this right, and their emigration 
has In no way been hampered. 1 As regards your question con- 
cerning the transplantation of Jews Into the Russian interior, 
the Government will, of course, avoid everything that may further 
complicate the relations between the Jews and the original popu- 
lation. For this reason, though keeping the Pale of Jewish Settle- 
ment intact, I have already suggested to the Jewish Committee 
[attached to the Ministry]* to indicate those localities which, 
being thinly populated and in need of colonisation, might admit 
of the settlement of the Jewish element .... without injury to 
the original population. 

This reply of the all-powerful Minister, which was published 
as a special supplement to the Jewish weekly Bazsvyet, in- 
creased the panic among the Jews of Russia. The Jews were 
publicly told that the Government wished to get rid of them, 
and that the only " right " they were to be granted was the 
right to depart; that no enlargement of the Pale of Settle- 
ment could possibly be hoped for, and that only as an extreme 
necessity would the Government allow groups of Jews to colo- 
nize the uninhabitable steppes of central Asia or the swamps 
of Siberia. Well-informed people were in possession of much 
more serious information : they knew that the Jewish Com- 
mittee attached to the Ministry of the Interior was preparing 
a monstrous plan of reducing the territory of the Pale of 
Settlement itself by expelling the Jews from the villages and ' 
driving them into the over-crowded cities. 

1 According to an old Russian law which had come into disuse, 
departure from the country without a special Government permit is ; 
punishable as a criminal offence. 

[» See p. 277.] 


The soul of the Jewish people was filled with sorrow, and 
yet there was no way of protesting publicly in the land of 
political slavery. The Jews had to resort to the old medieval 
form of a national protest by pouring forth their feelings 
in the synagogue. Many Jewish communities seemed to have 
come to an understanding to appoint the l&th of January as 
a day of mourning to be observed by fasting and by holding 
religious services in the synagogues. This public mourning 
ceremony proved particularly impressive in St. Petersburg. 
On the appointed day the whole Jewish population of the 
Bussian capital, with its numerous Jewish professionals, 
assembled in the principal synagogue and in the other houses 
of prayer, reciting the hymns of perpetual Jewish martyrdom, 
the Setihot. In the principal synagogue the rabbi delivered 
a discourse dealing with the Jewish persecutions. 

When the preacheiv-an eye-witness narrates — began to picture 
in a broken voice the present position of Jewry, one long moan, 
coming, as it were, from one breast, suddenly burst forth and 
filled the synagogue. Everybody wept, the old, the young, the 
long-robed paupers, the elegant dandies dressed In latest fashion, 
the men in Government service, the physicians, the students, not 
to speak of the women. For two or three minutes did these 
heart-rending moans resound — this cry of common sorrow which 
had issued from the Jewish heart The rabbi was unable to con- 
tinue. He stood upon the pulpit, covered his face with his hands, 
and wept like a child. 

Similar political demonstrations in the presence of the 
Almighty were held during those days in many other cities. 
In some plates the Jews observed a three days' fast. Every- 
where the college youth, otherwise estranged from Judaism, 
took part in the national mourning, full of the presentiment 
that it, too, was destined to endure decades of sorrows and 


2. The Voice of England and America 

The political protest, which could not be uttered in Russia, 
was soon to be heard in England. During the very days on 
which the Russian Jews were weeping "i their synagogues, their 
English coreligionists, in conjunction with prominent English 
political leaders, organized indignation meetings to protest 
against the horrors of Russian Judaeophobia. Already at an 
earlier date, shortly after the pogrom of Warsaw, the London 
Times had published a series of articles under the heading 
" The Persecutions of the Jews in Russia," containing a heart- 
rending description of the pogroms of 1881 and an account 
of the anti-Semitic policy of the Russian rulers/ The articles 
produced a sensation. Reprinted in the form of a special 
publication, which in a short time went through three editions, 
they spread far beyond the confines of England. Numerous 
voices were soon to be heard demanding diplomatic inter- 
cession in favor of the oppressed Jews and calling for the 
organization of material relief for the victims of the pogroms. 

Russian diplomacy was greatly disconcerted by the growth 
of this anti-Russian agitation in a country, whose Government, 
headed at that time by Gladstone, endeavored to maintain 
friendly relations with Russia. The organ of the Russian 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Journal de SL Petersbourg, 
published two articles, attempting to refute the most revolting 
facts contained in the articles of the Times; it denied that 
there had been cases of rape, and asserted that " murders were 
exceedingly rare."* The official organ further stated that 

I 1 The author of these articles was Joseph Jacobs who after- 
wards settled In New York, where he died in 1916.] 

* It is true that the account in the Times contained a few ex- 
aggerations as fur as the number of victims and the dimensions 
of the catastrophe in general are concerned, but the picture as a 
whole was entirely in keeping with the facts, and the cases of 
murder and rape, as, for instance, in Kiev, were, on the whole, 
stated correctly. 


" the Government has already begun to consider new legisla- 
tive measures concerning the Jews," without mentioning, how- 
ever, that these "measures" were of a repressive character. 
The mouthpiece of Russian diplomacy asked in an irritated 
tone whether the pro- Jewish agitators wished "to sow dis- 
cord between the Russian and the English people" and spoil 
the friendly relations between these two Powers which Glad- 
stone's Government had established, reversing the contrary 
policy of Beaconsfield. 

However, these diplomatic polemics were unable to restrain 
the English political leaders from proceeding with the arrange- 
ments for the projected demonstrations. After a whole series 
of protest meetings in various cities of England, a large mass 
meeting was called at the Mansion House in London, 1 under 
the chairmanship of the Lord Mayor. The elite of England 
was represented at the meeting, including Members of Parlia- 
ment, dignitaries of the Church, the titled aristocracy, and 
men of learning. A number of prominent persons who were 
unable to be present sent letters expressing their warm sym- 
pathy with the aims of the gathering ; among them were Tenny- 
son, Sir John Lubbock, and others. 

The first speaker, the Earl of Shaftesbury, pointed out that 
the English people did not wish to meddle in the inner affairs 
of Russia, but desired to influence it by "moral weapons, 
in the name of the principle of the " solidarity of nations. 
The official denials of the atrocities he brushed aside with the 
remark that, if but a tenth part of the reports were true, 
" it is sufficient to draw down the indignation of the world/' 
It was necessary, in the opinion of Shaftesbury, to appeal 
directly to the Tzar and ask him " to be a Cyrus to the Jews, 
and not an Antiochus Epiphanes." 

[» On February 1. 1882.] 



The Bishop of London, speaking in the absence of the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of the Anglican 
Church, reminded his audience that only several years pre- 
viously England had been horrified by the outrages perpe- 
trated by the Turkish Bashi-buzuks s upon the Bulgars, who 
were then defended by Russia, and it had now a right to protest 
against Christian Russia as it had formerly done against 
Mohammedan Turkey. 

The most powerful speech was delivered by Cardinal Man- 
ning, the great Catholic divine. He pointed to the fact that 
the Russian Jews were not only the object of temporary 
pogroms but that they constantly groaned under the yoke of 
a degrading legislation which says to the Jew: "You may 
not pass beyond that boundary; you must not go within 
eighteen miles of that frontier; you must not dwell in that 
town; you must live only in that province." He caused 
laughter in the audience by quoting from Ignatyev's famous 
circular concerning the appointment of the gubernatorial com- 
missions, in which, commenting upon the terrible atrocities re- 
cently perpetrated upon the Jews, the Minister lamented " the 
sad condition of the Christian inhabitants of the southern 
provinces/ 9 Cardinal Manning concluded his eloquent address 
with the following words marked by a lofty, prophetic strain : 

There Is a book which is common to the race of Israel and to 
us Christians. That book is the bond between us, and in that 
book I read that the people of Israel are the eldest people upon 
the earth. Russia and Austria and England are of yesterday,, 
compared with the imperishable people, which, with an inex- 
tinguishable life and immutable traditions, and faith In God and 
in the laws of God, scattered, as it is, all over the world, passed 

I 1 See above, p. 253, n. 2.] 


through the fires unscathed, trampled into the dust, and yet never 
combining with the dust into which it is trampled, lives still, a 
witness and a warning to us. 1 

After several more speeches by Canon Farrar, Professor 
Bryce,* and others, the following resolutions were adopted: 

1. That, in the opinion of this meeting, the persecution and 
." the outrages which the Jews in many parts of the Russian do- 
g minions hare for sereral months past suffered are an offence to 

Christian civilisation, and to be deeply deplored. 

2. That this meeting, while disclaiming any right or desire to 
interfere in the internal affairs of another country, and desiring 
that the most amicable relations between England and Russia 
should be preserved, feels it a duty to express its opinion that 
the laws of Russia relating to Jews tend to degrade them in the 
eyes of the Christian population, and expose Russian Jewish sub- 
jects to the outbreaks of fanatical ignorance. 

& That the Lord Mayor be requested to forward a copy of 
these resolutions to the Right Honourable W. EL Gladstone and the 
Right Honourable Earl Granville, in the hope that Her Majesty's 
Government may be able, when an opportunity arises, to exercise a 
friendly influence with the Russian Government In accordance 
with the spirit of the preceding resolutions. 

Finally a resolution was adopted to open a relief fond for 
the sufferers of the pogroms and for improving the condition 
of Bussian Jewry by emigration as well as by other means. 
The committee chosen by the meeting for this purpose included 

Pin reproducing the quotations I have followed in the main 
'.the account of the Mansion House Meeting contained in the 
j| pamphlet published in New York under the title Proceeding* of 
Meeting* held February 1, 1882, at New York and London, to 
Express Sympathy with the Oppressed Jews in Russia. The ac- 
count of the Jewish Chronicle of February 3, 1882, offers a 
number of variations.] 

[* James Bryce, the famous writer and statesman, subsequently 
British ambassador at Washington.] 



the Lord Mayor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal 
Manning, the Bishop of London, Nathaniel de Rothschild, 
and others. 

A few days after the Mansion House Meeting the English 
Government responded to the resolutions adopted on that occa- 
sion. The following dispatch, dated London, February 9, 
appeared in the Russian papers : 

In the House of Commons, Gladstone, replying to an Inter- 
pellation of Sir John Simon, Btated that reports concerning the 
persecutions of the Jews in Russia had been received from the 
English consuls, and could not but inspire sentiments of the 
utmost pain and horror. But the matter being an Internal affair 
of another country, it could not become the object of official corre- 
spondenee or inquiry on the part of England. All that could be 
done was to make casual and unofficial representations. All other 
actions touching the question of the relations of the Russian 
Goramment to the Jews were more likely to harm than to help 
the Jewish population. 1 

Another telegram sent from London on February 14 con- 
tained the following communication : 

•On this occasion Gladstone merely repeated the words of the 
Russian official communication which had been published on the 
ere of tfce Mansion House Meeting in the hope of scaring the 
organiiers of the protest: " The Russian Government, which has 
always most scrupulously refrained from interfering in the 
inner affairs of other countries, is correspondingly unable to allow 
a similar violation of international practice by others. Any 
attempt on the part of another Government to intercede on behalf 
of the Jewish people can only have the result of calling forth the 
resentment of the lower classes and thereby affect unfavorably the 
condition of the Russian Jews." In addition to this threat, the 
Imperial Messenger endeavored to prove that the measures 
adopted by the Government against the pogroms M were not weak," 
as may be seen from the large number of those arrested by the 
police after the disorders, which amounted to 3676 in the South 
and to 8161 in Warsaw. 



In the House of Commons, Gladstone, replying to Baron Worms, 
stated that no humane purposes could be achieved by parlia- 
mentary debates about the Jews of Russia. Such debates were 
rather likely to arouse the hostility of a certain portion of the 
Russian population against the Jews and that therefore no day 
would be appointed for the debate, as requested by Worms. 1 

In this way matters were smoothed oyer, to the great satis- 
faction of Bussian diplomacy. The public and Government 
of England confined themselves to expressing their feelings 
of " disgust " at the treatment of the Jews in Russia, but no 
immediate representations to St. Petersburg were attempted 
by Gladstone's Cabinet. For the same reason the English 
Prime Minister refused to forward to its destination a peti- 
tion addressed to the Bussian Government by the Jews of Eng- 
land, with Baron Rothschild at their head. Count Ignatyev 
had no cause for worry. The misunderstanding with the 
friendly Government had been removed, and the fiery protests 
at the English meetings interfered but little with his peace of 
mind. He pursued his course, unabashed by the " disgust " 
which it aroused in the whole civilized world. 

The voice of protest against the Bussian barbarities which 
resounded throughout England was seconded in far-off Amer- 
ica. Long before the accession of Alexander III. the Govern- 
ment of the United States had had repeated occasion to make 
representations to the Bussian Government with reference 
to its treatment of the Jews. These representations were 
prompted by the fact that American citizens of the Jewish 
faith were subjected during their stay in Bussia to the same 
disabilities and discriminations which the Bussian Government 
imposed upon its own Jews.' Yet, actuated by broader human- 

[* Compare the Jewish Chronicle of February 17, 1882.] 

[* See the correspondence between the United States and Russia 

collected in House of Representatives, 5Ut Congress, 1st Session. 

Executive Document No. 470, dated October 1, 1890.] 


itarian considerations, the United States Government became 
interested in the general question of the position of Russian 
Jewry, and invited reports from its representatives at St. 
Petersburg on the subject, 1 On April 14, 1880, the Secretary 
of State, William M. Efarts, responding to a petition of the 
Union of American Hebrew Congregations, who had com- 
plained about " the extraordinary hardships " which the Jews 
of Russia were made to suffer at that time, directed the United 
States Minister at St. Petersburg, John W. Poster, to bear in 
mind "the liberal sentiments of this Government " and to 
express its views " in a manner which will subserve the interests 
of religious freedom." * Acting upon these instructions, Poster 
took occasion to discuss the Jewish question in his conver- 
sations with leading Russian officials about which he reported 
fully to his Government.* 

On May 22 of the same year a resolution was passed by the 
House of Representatives requesting the President to lay before 
it all available information relating to the cases of expulsion 
of American citizens of the Jewish faith from Russia, and 
at the same time " to communicate to this House all corres- 

[*A "memorandum on the legal position of the Hebrews in 
Russia" was transmitted by the American legation to the Secre- 
tary of State on September 29, 1872 (loc. cit. pp. 9-13). An 
abstract from a Russian memorandum on the Jewish right of 
residence was forwarded in the same manner on March 15, 1875 
(loc. cit., pp. 25-28). The circular of Tolstoi against the pogroms 
(see later in the text, p. 314) is reproduced in full, loc. cit., p. 68 
et seq.] 

[* loc. cit., p. 88.] 

[*An account of Foster's conversation on the problem of Rus- 
sian Jewry with de Giers, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, 
Lorls-Melikov, the Minister of the Interior, and " the Minister of 
Worship " is found in his dispatch of December 30, 1880, loo. cit., 
p. 43 et $eq.] 


pondence in reference to the proscription of Jews by the Bus- 
sum Government." * 

The pogroms of 1881, and the indignation they aroused 
among the American people induced the United States Govern- 
ment to adopt a more energetic form of protest. In his dis- 
patch to the United States Minister at St Petersburg, dated 
April 15, 1882, the new Secretary of State, Frederic T. Freling- 
huysen, takes account of the prevailing sentiment in the 
country in these words : " The prejudice of race and creed 
having in our day given way to the claims of our common 
humanity, the people of the United States have heard with 
great regret the stories of the sufferings of the Jews in Russia." 
He therefore notifies the Minister " that the feeling of 
friendship which the United States entertains for Russia 
prompts this Government to express the hope that th^Imperial 
Government will find means to cause the persecution of these 
unfortunate beings to cease."* 

A more emphatic note of protest was sounded in the House 
of Representatives by Samuel S. Cox, of New York, who, in 
his lengthy speech delivered on July 31, 1882, scathingly 
denounced the repressive methods practised by the Russian 
Government against the Jews, and, more particularly, the 
outrages which had been perpetrated upon them during the 
preceding year.* He makes the former directly responsible 

I 1 Compare Congressional Record, vol. 13, part 7, Appendix, 
p. 651. The same request for information was repeated by the 
House of Representatives on January 30, 1882 (loc. cit., voL 13, p. 
738; see also p. 645). In reply to the latter resolution President 
Arthur submitted, under date of May 22, 1882, all the diplomatic 
papers on the subject which were printed as Executive Document 
No. 192. These papers were reprinted on October 1, 1890, as part 
of Executive Document No. 470, under President Harrison.] 

[•Executive Document No. 470, p. 66.] 

[* Congressional Record, vol. 13, part 7, Appendix, p. 651 et seq. 
The speech is accompanied by an elaborate tabulated statement of 
the pogroms and a map of the area in which they had taken plaee.] 


for the latter. In his opinion the pogroms were not merely 
a spontaneous and sadden outburst of the Russian populace 
against the Jews, but rather the slow result of the disabilities 
and discriminations which are imposed upon the Jews by the \t 
Russian Government and are bound to degrade them in the 
eyes of their fellow-citizens : 

Is It said that the Russian peasantry, and not the Government, 
are responsible, I answer: If the peasantry of Russia are too 
ignorant or debased to understand the nature of this cruel perse- 
cution, they hare warrant for their conduct in the customs and 
laws of Russia to which I have referred. These discriminate 
against the Jews. They have reference to their isolation, their 
separation from Russian protection, their expulsion from certain 
parts of the Empire, and their religion. When a peasant ob- 
serves such forceful movements and authoritative discriminations 
in a Government against a race, it arouses his Ignorance, and 
inflames his fanatical zealotry. Adding this to the jealousy of the 
Jews as middlemen and business-men, and you may account for, 
but not justify, these horrors. The Hebraic-Russian question 
has been summed up in a few words: "Extermination of two 
and one-half millions of mankind because they are — Jews! " * 

After giving an elaborate account of the horrors which had 
taken place in Russia during 1881, he wound up his speech 
with the following eloquent appeal: 

This people is one of the survivors, with Egypt, China and 
India, of the infancy of mankind. It is at the mercy of the cruel 
despot of the North. With a lineage unrivalled for purity, a 
religious sentiment and ethics drawn out of the glory and great- 
ness of Mount Sinai .... with an eternal influence from its 
law-givers, prophets, and psalmists never vouchsafed to any lan- 
guage, race or creed, it outlivea the philosophies and myths of 
Greece and the grandeur and power of Rome. It is this race, 
broken-hearted and scattered, to which the Czar of all the Russiaa 
adds the enormities of his rule upon the victims of the ignorance 

:• to*, cit., p. 663.] 


and slander of the ages. The birthright of this race is thus 
despoiled; and, Sir, have we no word of protest? Straggling 
against adversities which no other people have encountered, do 
they not yet survive — the wine from the crashed grape? 1 

The resolution introduced by him on that occasion was to 
the following effect: 

Whereas the Government of the United States should exercise 
Its influence with the Government of Russia to stay the spirit of 
persecution as directed against the Jews, and protect the citizens 
of the United States resident in Russia, and seek redress for 
injuries already inflicted, as well as to secure by wise and en- 
lightened administration the Hebrew subjects of Russia and tho 
Hebrew citizens of the United States resident in Russia against 
the recurrence of wrongs; Therefore 

Resolved, That the President of the United States, If not incom- 
patible with the public service, report to this House any further 
correspondence in relation to the Jews in Russia not already 
communicated to this House." ' 

The resolution, which was referred to the Committee 
on Foreign Affairs, was finally passed by the House on 
February 23, 1883. 

The sentiments of the broad masses of the American people 
had found utterance somewhat earlier at a big protest meeting 
which was held in February, 1882, in the city of New York, 
where the first refugees from Russia had begun to arrive.* 
A resolution was adopted protesting " against the spirit of 
medieval presecution thus revived in Russia " and calling upon 
the Government of the United States to make energetic repre- 

p loc. dt., p. 65«.] 

[' Congressional Record, vol. 13, p. €691.] 

['The meeting was held on Wednesday, February 1, 1882, on 
the same day as the Mansion House Meeting in London. The chair 
was occupied by the Mayor, William R. Grace. See the American 
Hebrew of February 3, 1882, p. 138 et seq .] 



sentations to St. Petersburg. One of the speakers at the New 

York meeting, Judge Noah Davis, said, amidst the enthusiastic 
applause of the audience : 

Let them come! I would to Heaven it were In our power to 
take the whole three million Jews of Russia. The valley of the Mis- 
sissippi alone could throw her strong arms around, and draw them 
all to her opulent bosom, and bless them with homes of comfort, 
prosperity, and happiness. Thousands of them are praying to come. 
The throne of Jehovah is besieged with prayers for the powers 
of escape, and if they cannot live in peace under Russian laws 
without being subject to these awful persecutions, let us aid 
them in coming to us. 1 

These words of the speaker, uttered in a moment of oratori- 
cal exultation, voiced the secret wish cherished by many en- 
thusiasts of the Eussian ghetto. 

3. The Problem of Emigration and ths Pogrom at 


In Bussia itself a large number of emigration societies came 
into being about the same time, which had for their object 
the transfer of Russian Jews to the United States, the land of 
the free. The organizers of these societies evidently relied on 
some miraculous assistance from ijhe outside, such as the Alli- 
ance Israelite of Paris and similar Jewish bodies in Europe 
and America. Under the immediate effect of Ignatyev's 
statement to Dr. Orshanski in which the Eussian Minister 
referred to the "Western frontier " as the only escape for 
the Jews, the Bussian-Jewish press was flooded with reports 
from hundreds of cities, particularly in the South of Bussia, 

[* See Proceedings of Meetings held February 1, 1882, at New 
York and London, to Express Sympathy with the Oppressed Jews 
in Russia. New York, p. 20 et seq'l 


telling of the formation of emigrant groups. "Our poor 
classes have only one hope left to them, that of leaving the 
country. * Emigration, America/ are the slogans of our breth- 
ren" — this phrase occurs at that time with stereotyped fre- 
quency in all the reports from the provinces. 

Many Eussian-Jewish intellectuals dreamed of establishing 
Jewish agricultural and farming colonies in the United States, 
where some batches of emigrants who had left during the 
year 1881 had already managed to settle on the land. A part 
of the Jewish youth was carried away by the idea of settling 
in Palestine, and conducted a vigorous propaganda on behalf 
of this national idea among the refugees from the modern 
Egypt. There was urgent need of uniting these emigration 
societies scattered all over the Pale of Settlement and of estab- 
lishing central emigration committees to regulate the move- 
ment which had gripped the people with elemental force. 

Unfortunately, there was no unity of purpose among the 
Jewish leaders in Bussia. The intellectuals who stood nearer 
to the people, such as the well-known oculist, Professor Man- 
delstamm, who enjoyed great popularity in Kiev, and others 
like him, as well as a section of the Jewish press, particularly 
the Razsvyet, insisted continually on the necessity of organiz- 
ing the emigration movement, which they regarded as the 
most important task confronting Bussian Jewry at that time* 
The Jewish oligarchy in St. Petersburg, on the other hand, 
was afraid lest such an undertaking might expose it to the 
charge of " disloyalty" and of a lack of Bussian patriotism. 
Others again, whose sentiments were voiced by the Bussian- 
Jewish periodical Voskhod and who were of a more radical 
turn of mind, looked upon the attempt to encourage a wholesale 
emigration of Jews as a concession to the Government of 


Ignatyev and as an indirect abandonment of the struggle for 
emancipation in Eussia itself. 

In the spring of 1882, the question of organizing the emi- 
gration movement had become so pressing that it was decided 
to convene a conference of provincial Jewish leaders in St. 
Petersburg to consider the problem. Before the delegates had 
time to arrive in the capital, the sky of South Eussia was once 
more lit up by a terrible flare. Balta, a large Jewish center in 
Podolia, where a Jewish emigration society had sprung into 
being shortly before the catastrophe, became the scene of a 
frightful pogrom. 

It was shortly before the Bussian Passover, the high season 
of pogroms, when the Bussian public was startled by a strange 
announcement published towards the end of March in the 
Imperial Messenger to the effect that from now on it would 
accurately report all cases of " Jewish disorders " in accord- 
ance with the official information received from the governors. 
The announcement clearly implied that the Government knew 
beforehand of the imminence of new pogroms. Even the con- 
servative Moscow News commented on the injudicious State- 
ment of the official organ in emphatic and sarcastic terms: 

The Imperial Messenger is comforting the public by the an- 
nouncement that it would in due time and at due length report all 
cases of excesses perpetrated upon the Jews. One might think 
that these are everyday occurrences forming part of the natural 
course of events which demand nothing else than timely com- 
munication to the public Is there indeed no means to put a stop 
to this crying scandal? 

Events soon made it clear that there was no desire to put 
a stop to this " scandal," as the Moscow paper politely termed 
the exploits of the Bussian robber bands. The local authori- 
ties of Balta were forewarned in time of the approaching 


pogroms. Beginning with the middle of March the people in 
Balta and the surrounding country were discussing than 
openly. When the Jews of that town made their apprehen- 
sions known to the local police commissioner, they received 
from him an evasive reply. In view of the fact that the 
Jewish population of Balta was three times as large as the 
Christian, it would not have been difficult for the Jews to 
organize some sort of self-defence. But they knew that sueh 
an organization was strictly forbidden by the Government, and, 
realizing the consequence*, they had to confine themselves to 
a secret agreement entered into by a few families to stand up 
for one another in the hour of distress. On the second day 
of the Kussian Easter, corresponding to the seventh day of 
the Jewish festival, on March 29, the pogrom began, sur- 
passing by the savagery of the mob and the criminal conduct 
of the authorities all the bacchanalia of 1881. A contempo- 
rary observer, basing his statements on the results of a special 
investigation, gives the following account of the events at 

At the beginning of the pogrom, the Jews got together and 
forced a band of rioters to draw back and seek shelter in the 
building of the fire department. But when the police and soldiers 
appeared on the scene, the rioters decided to leave their place of 
refuge. Instead of driving off the disorderly band, the police 
and soldiers began to beat the Jews with their rifle butts and 
swords. This served as a signal to start the pogrom. At that 
moment, somebody sounded an alarm bell, and, in response, the 
mob began to flock together. Feuring the numerical superiority 
of the Jews in that part of the town, the crowd passed across the 
bridge to the so-called Turkish side, where there were fewer Jews. 
The crowd was accompanied by the military commander, the 
police commissioner, the burgomaster, and a part of the local 
battalion, which fact, however, did not prevent the mob, while 



passing the Cathedral street, from demolishing a Jewish store and 
breaking the windows in the house of another Jew, a member of the 
town-council. After the mob had crossed ovsr to the Turkish 
side, the authorities drew up military cordons on all the three 
bridges leading* from that side to the rest of the town, with the 
order not to allow any Jews to pass. Needless to say, the order was 
carried out. At the same time the Christians of the remaining 
sections of the town and of the village of Alexandrovka were 
allowed to pass unhindered. Thanks to these arrangements, the 
Turkish side was sacked in the course of three to four hours, so 
that by one o'cloek in the morning the rioters found nothing left 
to do. During the night, the police and military authorities 
arrested twenty-four rioters and a much larger number of Jews. 
The latter were arrested because they ventured to stay near their 
homes. The following morning, the Christians were released and 
allowed to swell the ranks of the pillaging mob, while the Jews 
were kept in jail until the following day and freed only when the 
governor arrived. 

On the following day, March 30, at four o'clock in the morning, 
a large number of peasants, amounting to about five thousand 
and armed with clubs, began to arrive in town, having been sum- 
moned by the Ispravnik * from the adjacent villages. The arrival 
of the peasants was welcomed by the Jews, who thought that they 
had been called to come to their aid. But they soon found out 
their mistake, for the peasants declared that they had come to 
beat and plunder the Jews. Simultaneously with the arrival of 
the peasants, large numbers from among the local mob began to 
assemble around the Cathedral, and at eight o'clock in the morning 
signals were given to renew the pogrom. At first this was pre- 
vented. The officers of the local battalion, who patrolled the 
city, ordered the soldiers to surround the mob and hold it off for 
about an hour, during which time the Greek-Orthodox bishop ' Rad- 

[* The head of the district (or county) police. The police in 
the larger towns of the county is subject to the police commis- 
sioner of the town, who is referred to earlier in the text.] 

[* In Russian, Protoyerey, a term borrowed from the Greek. It 
corresponds roughly to the title of bishop.] 



zionovski admonished the rioters and tried to make them under- 
stand that such doings were contrary to the laws of the Church and 
the State. But when the police commissioner, the military chief, 
and Ispravnik arrived before the Cathedral, the military cordon 
was withdrawn, and the crowd, now let loose, threw itself upon a 
near-by liquor store, and, after demolishing It and filling itself with 
alcohol, resumed its work of destruction, with the co-operation 
of the peasants who had been summoned by the Ispravnik and the 
assistance of the soldiers and policemen. It was on this occasion 
that those wild, savage scenes of murder, rapine, and plunder took 
place, the account of which as published in the newspapers is but 
the pale shadow of the real facts .... The pogrom of Balta was 
called forth not by the mere inactivity but by the direct activity of 
the local authorities. 

What these " savage scenes " were we do not learn from the 
newspapers, which were forbidden by the censor to report them, 
but we know them partly from unpublished sources and partly 
from the later court proceedings. Aside from the demolition 
of twelve hundred and fifty houses and business places and the 
destruction and pillage of property and merchandise — accord- 
ing to a statement of the local rabbi, " all well-to-do Jews were 
turned into beggars, and more than fifteen thousand people 
were sent out into the wide world " — a large number of people 
were killed and maimed, and many women were violated. 
Forty Jews were slain or dangerously wounded; one hundred 
and seventy received slight wounds; many Jews, and particu- 
larly Jewesses, became insane from fright. There were more 
than twenty cases of rape. The seventeen year old daughter of 
a poor polisher, Eda Maliss by name, was attacked by a horde 
of bestial lads before the eyes of her brother. When the mother 
of the unfortunate girl ran into the street and called to her aid 
a policeman who was standing near-by, the latter followed 
the woman into the house, and then, instead of helping her. 



dishonored her on the spot. The fiendish hordes invaded the 
home of Baruch Shlakhovski, and began their bloody work by 
slaying the master of the house, whereupon his wife and daugh- 
ter fled and hid themselves in a near-by orchard. Here a 
Eussian neighbor lured them into his house under the pretext 
of defending their honor against the rioters, but, once in his 
house, he disgraced the daughter in the presence of her mother. 
In many cases the soldiers of the local garrison assaulted and 
befct the Jews who showed themselves on the streets while the 
u military operations " of the mob were going on. In accord- 
ance with the customary pogrom ritual, the human fiends were 
left undisturbed for two days, and only on the third day 
were troops summoned from a near-by city to put a stop to 
the atrocities. 

On the same day the governor of Podolia arrived to make 
an investigation. It was soon learned that the local authori- 
ties, the police commissioner, the Ispravnik, the military com- 
mander, the burgomaster, and the president of the nobility * 
had either directly or indirectly abetted the pogrom. Many 
rioters, who had been arrested by the police, were soon released, 
because they threatened otherwise to point out to the higher 
authorities the ringleaders from among the local officials and 
the representatives of Eussian society. The Jews, again, were 
constantly terrorized by these scoundrels and cowed by the fear 
of massacres and complete annihilation, in case they dared to 
expose their hangmen before the courts. 

The pogrom of Balta found but a feeble echo in the imme- 
diate neighborhood — in a few localities of the governments 

[*The nobility of each government forms an organization of 
Its own. It is headed by a president for the entire government who 
has under his jurisdiction a president for each district (or county). 
Such a county president is referred to in the text] 



of Podolia and Kherson. It seemed as if the energy of destruc- 
tion and savagery had spent itself in the exploits at Balta. 
On the whole, the pogrom campaign conducted in the spring 
of 1882 covered but an insignificant territory when compared 
with the pogrom enterprise of 1881, though surpassing it con- 
siderably in point of quality. The horrors of Balta were a 
substantial earnest of the Kishinev atrocities of 1903 and the 
October pogroms of 1905. 

4. The Conference of Jewish Notables at 

St. Petersburg 

The horrors of Balta cast their shadow upon the conference 
of Jewish delegates which met in St. Petersburg on April 
8-11, 1882. The conference, which had been called by Baron 
Horace Gunzburg, with the permission of Ignatyev, was made 
up of some twenty-five delegates from the provinces — among 
them Dr. Mandelstamm of Kiev, Babbi Isaac Elhanan Spector 
of Kovno — and fifteen notables from the capital, including 
Baron Gunzburg himself, the railroad magnate Polakov, and 
Professor Bakst. The question of Jewish emigration was the 
central issue of the conference, although, in connection with it, 
the general situation of Bussian Jewry came up for discussion. 
There was a mixed element of tragedy and timidity in the 
deliberations of this miniature congress, at which neither the 
voice of the masses nor that of the intelligenzia were given a full 
hearing. On the one hand, the conference listened to heart- 
rending speeches, picturing the intolerable position of the 
Jews, and one of the delegates, Shmerling from Moghilev, who 
had just delivered such a speech, was so overcome that he 
fainted and died in a few hours. On the other hand, the most 
influential delegates, particularly those from the capital, were 



looking about timorously, fearing lest the Government suspect 
them of a lack of patriotism. Others again looked upon emi- 
gration as an illicit form of protest, as " sedition/' and they 
clung to this conviction, even when the conference had been 
told in the name of the Minister of the Interior that it was 
expected to consider the question of " thinning out the Jewish 
population in the Pale of Settlement, in view of the fact that 
the Jews will not be admitted into the interior governments 
of Kussia." 

At the second meeting of the conference, the rabbi of 
St. Petersburg, Dr. Drabkin, reported to the delegates about 
his last conversation with Ignatyev. In reply to the rabbi 
who had stated that the Jews were waiting for an imperial 
word ordering the suppression of the pogroms, and were antici- 
pating the removal of their legal disabilities, the Minister 
had characterized these assertions as "commonplaces," and 
had added in an irritated tone: "The Jews themselves are 
responsible for the pogroms. By joining the Nihilists they 
thereby deprive the Government of the possibility of sheltering 
them against violence/' The sophistry of the Minister was 
refuted on the spot by his own confession that the Balta 
pogrom was due to "a false rumor charging the Jews with 
having undermined the local Greek-Orthodox church/' in 
other words, that the cause of the Balta pogrom was not to 
be traced to any tendencies within Jewry but rather to the 
agitation of evil-minded Jew-baiters. 

At the same session, the discussion of the emigration ques- 
tion was side-tracked by a new design of the slippery Minister. 
The financier Samuel Polakov, who was close to Ignatyev, 
declared in a spirit of base flunkeyism that the labors of the 
conference would prove fruitless unless they were carried 




on in accordance with " Government instructions." On this 
occasion he informed the conference that in a talk which he 
had had with the Minister the latter had branded the endeavors 
to stimulate emigration as u an incitement to sedition," on the 
ground that " emigration does not exist for Russian citizens." 
Asked by the Minister for suggestions as to the best means 
of relieving the congestion of the Jews in the Pale, Polakov 
had replied : " By settling them all over Bussia." To this the 
Minister had retorted that he oould not allow the settlement 
of Jews except in Central Asia and in the newly conquered 
oasis of Akhal-Tekke. 1 In obedience to these ministerial 
utterances, the obsequious financier sharply opposed the plan 
of a Jewish emigration to foreign lands, and seriously recom- 
mended to the conference to consider the proposal made by 
Ignatyev. The Minister's suggestion was bitterly attacked by 
Dr. Mandelstamm, who saw in it a new attempt to make sport 
of the Jews. Even Professor Bakst, who objected to emigration 
on principle, declared that the proposed scheme of settling the 
Jews amounted in reality to " a deportation to far-off places " 
and was tantamount to an official " classification of the Jews 
as criminals." 

From the project of deportation, which failed to meet with 
the sympathy of the conference, the delegates proceeded to dis- 
cuss the burning question of pogroms. It was proposed to 
send a deputation to the Tzar, appealing to him to put a stop 
to the legislative restrictions, which were bound to inspire 
the Russian population with the belief that the Jews were 
outside the pale of the law. 

In the question of foreign emigration the majority of the 
conference voted against the establishment of emigration oom- 

[* In the Trans-Caspian region* It had been occupied by RiUMrfnn 
troops shortly before— in 1880.] 







mittees, on the ground that the latter might give the impres- 
sion as if the Jews were desirous of leaving Russia. 

After a debate lasting four days the following resolutions 
were adopted: 

Fir$t, to reject completely the thought of organizing emigration, 
as being subversive of the dignity of the Russian body politic and 
of the historic rights of the Jews to their present fatherland* 

Second, to point to the necessity of abolishing the present dis- 
criminating legislation concerning the Jews, this abolition being 
the only means to regulate the relationship of the Jewish popula- 
tion to the original inhabitants. 

Third, to bring to the knowledge of the Government the passive 
attitude of the authorities which had clearly manifested itself 
during the time of the disorders. 

Fourth, to petition the Government to find means for compen- 
sating the Jewish population, which had suffered from the pogroms 
as a result of inadequate police protection. 

At the same time the conference took occasion to refute the 
old accusation, which had again been brought up in the guber- 
natorial commissions, that the Jews still retained their ancient 
autonomous Kahal organization, and that the latter was 
operating secretly and was fostering Jewish separatism to the 
detriment of the other elements of the population. 

The resolution of the conference on this score read as 

We, the undersigned, the representatives of various centers of 
Jewish settlement in Russia, rabbis, members of religious organi- 
sations and synagogue boards, consider it our sacred duty, calling 
to witness God Omniscient, to declare publicly, in the presence of 
the whole of Russia, that there exists neither an open nor a 
secret Kahal administration among the Russian Jews; that Jew- 
ish life is entirely foreign to any organization of this kind and to 
any of the attributes ascribed to such an organization by evil- 
minded persons. 



The signers of this solemn pronouncement were evidently 
unaware of the degrading renunciation of national rights 
which was implied in the declaration that not only had the 
Jews lost their former comprehensive communal organiza- 
tion — this was in accordance with the facts — but that, were 
such an inner autonomous organization to exist, they would 
regard it as a criminal offence, subversive of the public order 
and punishable by the forfeiture of civil rights. 




1. The « Temporary Rules " of May 3, 1882 

Daring the interval between the pogrom of Warsaw and 
that of Balta the Government was preparing for the Jews a 
series of legislative pogroms. In the recesses of the Russian 
Government offices, which served as the laboratories of police 
barbarism, the authorities were busy forging a chain of legal 
and administrative restrictions in order to " regulate " Jewish 
life in the spirit of complete civil disfranchisement. The Cen- 
tral Committee on Jewish Affairs, attached to the Ministry 
of the Interior, which was called for short " the Jewish Com- 
mittee" but might far more appropriately have been called 
" the Anti-Jewish Committee," was basing its labors upon the 
opinions submitted by the gubernatorial commissions and rear- 
ing on this foundation a monstrous structure of disabilities. 

The new project was based upon the following theory: 
The old Russian legislation was marked by its hostility to 
the Jews as a secluded group of alien faith and race. A 
departure from this attitude was attempted during the reign 
of Alexander II., when the rights of certain categories of Jews 
were enlarged, and " a period of toleration was inaugurated/' 
But subsequent experience proved the inexpediency of this 
tolerant attitude towards the Jews, as has been demonstrated 
by the recent manifestation " of an anti- Jewish movement 
abroad " (German anti-Semitism) and " the popular protest " 
in Russia itself, where it assumed the form of pogroms. 



Since Russia has now chosen the path of a " national policy/' 
it follows also in regard to the Jewish question that this 
country cannot but " turn to its ancient tradition, throw aside 
the innovations which have proved useless, and follow vigor- 
ously the principles, evolved by the whole past history of the 
monarchy, according to which the Jews must be regarded 
as aliens/' and therefore can lay no claim to full toleration. 

This barbarous theory, which brought Russia back to the 
traditions of ancient Muscovy, was expounded elaborately in 
the protocol of the session of the " anti-Jewish Committee," 
as a sort of preamble to the legal project submitted by it. 

While engaged in these labors, the members of the com- 
mittee received the news of the pogrom in Warsaw, and were 
greatly heartened by it. They did not fail to make an entry 
in the protocol to the effect that the " disorders " which had 
taken place in the Kingdom of Poland " where the Jews 
enjoy equal rights " (i. $., the right of residence) tend to sup- 
port the theory of the "injuriousness * of the Jewish people. 
Official pens began to scribble more rapidly, and within a short 
time, by the spring of 1882, a project was ready, to be inflicted 
as a severe punishment upon the Jews for the atrocities per- 
petrated upon them. The " conquered foe," represented by the 
Jewish population, was to be dislodged from a large area within 
the Pale of Settlement, overcrowded though the latter had be- 
come, by forbidding the Jews to settle anew outside of the 
cities and towns, t. e., in the country-side. Those already 
settled there were either to be evicted by the verdict of the 
rural communes, 1 or to be deprived of a livelihood by the pro- 
hibition to buy or lease immovable property and to trade in 

1 " To allow the communes to evict the Jews by a verdict,* ac- 
cording to the exact wording of the law. 


This project was submitted by Ignatyev to the Committee of 
Ministers, accompanied by the suggestion that the new disabili- 
ties be enacted not in due legal procedure (by the Council 
of State) but in the form of " Temporary Rules " to be sanc- 
tioned in an extra-legal way by the Tzar, with the end in 
view " to do away with the aggravated relations between the 
Jews and the original population/ 1 

However, even the members of the reactionary Committee 
of Ministers were embarrassed by Ignatyev's project. The 
Committee felt that it was impossible to carry out the expro- 
priation of personal and property rights on so extensive a 
scale without the due process of law and that the permis- 
sion to be granted to rural communes of expelling the Jews 
from the villages was tantamount to leaving the latter to 
the tender mercies of the benighted Russian masses, which 
would thus more than ever be strengthened in their convic- 
tion that the Jews might be expelled and assaulted with 
impunity, so that the relations between the two elements of 
the population, instead of improving, would only become 
more aggravated. On the other hand, the Committee of Min- 
isters went on record that it considered it necessary to adopt 
rigorous measures against the Jews in order that the peasants 
should not think "that the Tzar's will in ridding them of 
Jewish exploitation was not put into execution " 

As a result of these contentions, several concessions were 
made by Ignatyev, and the following compromise was reached: 
The clause ordering the expulsion of the hundreds of thou- 
sands of Jews already settled in the villages was eliminated, 
and the prohibition was restricted to the Jews who wished 
to settle outside of the towns and townlets anew. In turn, 
the Committee of Ministers yielded to Ignatyev*s demand that 


the project should be enacted with every possible dispatch, 
without preliminary submission to the Council of State. 

Such was the genesis of the famous "Temporary Rules" 
which were sanctioned by the Tzar on May 3, 1882. Shorn 
of all bureaucratic rhetoric, the new laws may be reduced to the 
following laconic provisions: 

First, to forbid the Jews henceforth to settle anew outside of the 
towns and townlets. 

Second, to suspend the completion of instruments of purchase 
of real property and merchandise in the name of Jews outside 
of the towns and townlets. 

Third, to forbid the Jews to carry on business on Sundays and 
Christian holidays. 

The first two " Rules " contained in their harmless word- 
ing a cruel punitive law which dislodged the Jews from 
nine-tenths of the territory hitherto accessible to them, and 
tended to coop up millions of human beings within the suffo- 
cating confines of the towns and townlets of the Western region. 
And yet, notwithstanding its tremendous implications, the law 
was passed outside the ordinary course of legal procedure — 
under the disguise of " Temporary Rules," which, in spite of 
their title, have been enforced with merciless cruelty for more 
than a generation. 

2. Abandonment of thb Pogrom Policy 

After imposing a severe and immediately effective penalty 
upon Russian Jewry for having been ruined by the pogroms, 
the Government suddenly remembered its duty, and dangled, 
the threat of future penalties before the prospective instigators 
of Jewish disorders. On the same fateful third of May, the 
Tzar sanctioned the decision of the Committee of Ministers 


concerning the necessity of declaring solemnly that "the 
Government is firmly resolved to prosecute invariably any 
attempt at violence on the person and property of the Jews, 
who are under the protection of the general laws." In accor- 
dance with this declaration, a senatorial ukase dated May 10 
was sent out to the governors, warning them that " the heads of 
the gubernatorial administrations would be held responsible 
for the adoption of timely measures looking to the prevention 
of the conditions leading to similar disorders and for the sup- 
pression of these disorders at the very outset, and that any 
negligence in this regard on the part of the administration 
and the police authorities would result in the dismissal from 
office of those found guilty." This warning was accompanied 
by the following confession: 

In view of the fact that sad occurrences in the past have made 
it evident that the local population, incited by evil-minded per- 
sons from covetous or other motives, has taken part in the 
disorders, it is the duty of the gubernatorial administration to 
make it clear to the local communes that they are obliged to adopt 
measures for the purpose .... of impressing upon the inhabitants 
the gross criminal offence implied in willfully perpetrating violent 
acts against anybody's person and property. 

It would almost seem as if the Government, by promul- 
gating on one and the same day the "Temporary Rules" 
against the Jews and the circular against th£ pogroms, wished 
to intimate to the Russian people that, inasmuch as the Jews 
were now being exterminated through the agency of the law, 
there was no further need to exterminate them on the streets. 
The originators of the u Temporary Rules " did not seem to 
realize that the latter were nothing but a variation of those 
c< violent acts against person and property," from which the 
street mob was warned to refrain, for the loss of the freedom 


of movement is violence against the person, and the denial of 
the right of purchasing real estate is violence against property. 
Even the Russian press, though held at that time in the grip 
of censorship, could not help commenting on the fact that the 
effect of the official circular against the pogroms had been 
greatly weakened by the simultaneous promulgation of the 
" Temporary Rules." 

It would seem as if the terrible atrocities at Balta had made 
the highest Government spheres realize that the previous policy 
of connivance at the pogroms, which had been practised for 
a whole year, could not but disgrace Russia in the eyes of the 
world and undermine public order in Russia itself. As soon 
as this was realized, the luckless Minister, who had been the 
pilot of Russian politics throughout that terrible year, was 
bound to disappear from the scene. Oh May 30, Count 
Ignatyev was made to resign, and Count Demetrius Tolstoi was 
appointed Minister of the Interior. 

Tolstoi was a grim reactionary and a champion of autocracy 
and police power, but he was at the same time an enemy of all 
manifestations of mob rule which tended to undermine the 
authority of the State. A few days after his appointment the 
new Minister issued a circular in which he reiterated the recent 
declaration of his predecessor concerning the "resolve of the * 
Government to prosecute every kind of violence against the - 
Jews/' announcing emphatically that " any manifestation of 
disorders would unavoidably result in the immediate prosecu- 
tion of all official persons who are in duty bound to -concern 
themselves with the prevention of disorders." 

This energetic pronouncement of the Government had a 
magic effect. All provincial administrators realized that the 
central Government of St Petersburg had ceased to trifle with 



the promoters of the pogroms, and the pogrom epidemic was 
at an end. Beginning with June, 1882, the pogroms assumed 
more and more a sporadic character. Here and there sparks 
of the old conflagration would flare up again, but only to die 
out quickly. In the course of the next twenty years, until the 
Kishinev massacre of 1903, no more than about ten pogroms 
of any consequence may be enumerated, and these disorders 
were all isolated movements, with a purely local coloring, and 
without the earmarks of a common organization or the force 
of an epidemic, such as characterized the pogrom campaigns 
of 1881, or those of 1903-1905. This is an additional proof 
for the contention that systematic pogroms in Bussia are impos- 
sible as long as the central Government and the local authori- 
ties are honestly and firmly set against them. 

The stringent measures adopted by Tolstoi were soon re- 
flected in the legal trials arising out of the pogroms. Formerly, 
the local authorities refrained as a rule from putting the 
rioters on trial lest their testimony might implicate the local 
administration, and even when action was finally brought 
against them, the culprits mostly escaped with slight penalties, 
such as imprisonment for a few months. But after the declara- 
tion of the Government in June the courts adopted a more 
rigorous attitude towards the rioters. 1 In the summer of 
1882, a number of cases arising out of the pogroms at Balta 
and in other cities were tried in the courts. The penalties im- 
posed by the courts were frequently severe, though fully 

*This, by the way, was not always the case. The court of 
Chernigov, which was compelled to bring in a verdict of guilty 
against the perpetrators of the pogrom in the townlet of Kar- 
povitch in the same government, decided to recommend the cul- 
prits to the clemency of the superior authorities, in view of the 
dissatisfaction of the people with the " exploitation " of the Jews. 
There were many instances of these anti-Jewish political mani- 
festations in the law-courts. 


deserved, such as deportation and confinement at hard labor, 
drafting into penal military companies, etc. In one case, two 
soldiers, haying been convicted of pillage and murder, were 
court-martialled and sentenced to death. When the sentence 
was submitted for ratification to Drenteln, governor-general 
of Kiev, the rabbi of Balta, acting on behalf of the local 
Jewish community, betook himself to Kiev to support the 
culprits in their petition for pardon. It was strange to listen 
to this appeal for mercy on behalf of criminals guilty of 
violence and murder, coming from the camp of their victims, 
from the demolished homes which still resounded with the 
moans of the wounded and with the weeping over lost lives 
and dishonored women. One finds it difficult to believe that 
this appeal for mercy was due entirely to an impulse of for- 
giveness. Associated with it was probably the apprehension 
that the death of the murderers would be avenged by their 
like-minded accomplices who were still at liberty. 

The Jews of Balta were soon to learn that their humility 
was ill-requited by the highly-placed promotejs of the riots. 
In the beginning of August, Governor-General Drenteln came 
to Balta. He was exceedingly irritated, not only on account 
of the recent circular of Tolstoi which implied a personal 
threat against him as one who had connived at a number of 
pogroms within his dominions, but also because of the steps 
taken by the representatives of the Balta Jewish community 
at St. Petersburg in the direction of exposing the spiritual 
fathers of the local riots. Having arrived in the sorely stricken 
city, the head of the province, who ex officio should have 
conveyed his expression of sympathy to the sufferers, sum- 
moned the rabbi 'and the leaders of the Jewish community, 
and, in the presence of his official staff, treated them to a 


speech frill of venomous hatred. He told them that by their 
actions the Jews had " armed everybody against themselves," 
that they were universally hated, that "they lived nowhere 
as happily as in Russia," and that the deputation they had sent 
to St. Petersburg for the purpose of presenting their com- 
plaints and "slandering the city authorities and repre- 
sentatives as if they had incited the tumultuous mob against 
the Jews " had been of no avail. In conclusion, he branded 
the petition of the Balta community for a commutation of 
the death sentence passed upon the rioters as an act of hypoc- 
risy, adding impressively that " these persons have been par- 
doned irrespective of the requests of the Jews." 

The speech of the bureaucratic Jew-baiter, whose proper 
place was in the dock, side by side with the convicted mur- 
derers, produced a terrible panic in the whole region of Kiev. 
The militant organ of the Jewish press, the Voskhod, properly 
remarked : 

After the speech of General-Adjutant Drenteln, our confidence 
in the Impossibility of a repetition of the pogroms has been 
decidedly shaken. Of what avail can ministerial circulars be when 
the highest administrators on the spot paralyze their actions in 
public by the living word? 

The apprehensions voiced by the Jewish organ were fortu- 
nately unfounded. True, the Minister Tolstoi was not able 
to punish the criminal harangue of the savage governor- 
general who had powerful connections at the Russian court. 
But the firm resolution of the central Government to hold 
if the heads of the administration to account for their conniv- 
es ance at pogroms had the desired effect. All that the snarling 
qh> dogs could do was to bark. 



3. Disabilities and Emigration 

The pogrom machinery was thus stopped by a word of com- 
mand from St. Petersburg. As a counterbalance, the ma- 
chinery for the manufacture of Jewish disabilities continued 
in full operation. The "Temporary Rules" of May third 
established a system of legal persecutions which were directed 
against the Jews on the ground of their " economic in juri- 
ousness." The fact that the Jewish population was in many 
regards outside the operation of the general laws of Russia 
opened up a wide field for the grossest forms of arbitrariness 
and lawlessness. At one stroke, all the exits from the over- 
crowded cities into the villages within the Pale of Settlement 
were tightly closed. All branches of industry connected with 
Jewish land ownership outside the cities were curtailed and 
in some places entirely cut off. In many villages the right 
bestowed on the rural communes of ostracising " vicious mem- 
bers" by a special verdict 1 was used as a weapon to expel those 
Jews who had long been settled there. 

It will be remembered that Ignatyev had proposed to en- 
courage the peasants officially in the use of this weapon against 
the Jews, and that the Committee of Ministers had rejected his 
proposal. There were now administrators who did the same 
thing unofficially. Prompted by selfish motives, the local 
KvJaks,* or "bosses," from among the Russian tradesmen, 
acting in conjunction with the rural elders, would convene 
peasant assemblies which were treated to liberal doses of 
alcohol. The intoxicated, half-illiterate moupks would sign 
a " verdict " demanding the expulsion of the Jews from their 

[ 1 The official term applied to the resolutions passed by the 
village communes. Compare p. 310.] 
£» Literally - Fists."] 


village; the verdict would be promptly confirmed by the gov- 
ernors and would immediately become law. Such expulsions 
were particularly frequent in the governments under the juris- 
diction of Drenteln, governor-general of Kiev, and no one 
doubted but that this ferocious Jew-baiter had passed the 
word to that effect throughout his dominions. 

The economic misery within the Pale drove a number of 
Jews into the Russian interior, but here they were met by 
the whip of the law, made doubly painful by the scorpions 
of administrative caprice. Wholesale expulsions of Jews took 
place in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov, and other 
forbidden centers. The effect of these expulsions upon the 
commercial life of the country was so disastrous that the big 
Russian merchants of Moscow and Kharkov appealed to the 
Government to relax the restrictions surrounding the visits 
of Jews to these cities. 

The civil authorities were now joined by the military powers 
in hounding the Jews. There were in the Russian army a 
large number of Jewish physicians, many of whom had dis- 
tinguished themselves during the preceding Russo-Turkisb 
war. The reactionary Government at the helm of Russian 
affairs could not tolerate the sight of a Jewish physiciac 
exercising the rights of an army officer which were other- 
wise utterly unattainable for a Jewish soldier. Accordingly, 
the Minister of War, Vannovski, issued a rescript dated 
April 10, 1882, to the following effect : 

First, to limit the number of Jewish physicians and fet&shcrs * 
In the Military Department to five per cent of the general number 
of medical men. 

[* See p. 167, n. 2.] 


Second, to stop appointing Jews on the medical service in the 
military districts of Western Russia, and to transfer the surplus 
oyer and above five per cent into the Eastern districts. 

Third, to appoint Jewish physicians only in those contingents 
of the army in which the budget calls for at least two physicians, 
with the proviso that the second physician must be a Christian. 

The reason for these provisions was stated in a most offen- 
sive form : 

It is necessary to stop the constant growth of the number of 
physicians of the Mosaic persuasion in the Military Department, 
in view of their deficient conscientiousness in discharging their 
duties and their unfavorable influence upon the sanitary serrice 
in the army. 

This revolting affront had the effect that many Jewish 
physicians handed in their resignations immediately. The 
resignation of one of these physicians, the well-known novelist 
Yaroshevski, was couched in such emphatic terms, and parried 
the moral blow directed at the Jewish professional men with 
such dignity that the Minister of War deemed it necessary 
to put the author on trial. Among other things, Yaroshevski 

So long as the aspersions cast upon the Jewish physicians so 
pitilessly are not removed, every superfluous minute spent by them 
in serving this Department will merely add to their disgrace. 
In the name of their human dignity, they have no right to remain 
there where they are held in abhorrence. 

Under these circumstances it seemed quite natural that the 
tendency toward emigration, which had called forth a number 
of emigration societies as far back as the beginning of 1882, 1 
took an ever stronger hold upon the Jewish population of 
Eussia. The disastrous consequences of the resolution adopted 

1 See above, p. 297 et seq. 



by the conference of notables in St. Petersburg * were now mani- 
fest. By rejecting the formation of a central agency for regu- 
lating the emigration, the conference had abandoned the move- 
ment to the blind elemental forces, and a catastrophe was bound 
to follow. The pogrom at Balta called forth a new outburst 
of the emigration panic, and in the summer of 1882 some 
twenty thousand Jewish refugees were again huddled together 
in the Galician border-town of Brody. They were without 
means for continuing their journey to America, having come 
to Brody in the hope of receiving help from the Jewish societies 
of Western Europe. The relief committees established in the 
principal cities of Europe were busily engaged in "evacuating" 
Brody of this destitute mass of fugitives. In the course of 
the summer and autumn this task was successfully accom- 
plished. A large number of emigrants were dispatched to the 
United States, and the rest were dispersed over the various 
centers of Western Europe. 

Aside from the highway of American emigration went, along 
a tiny parallel path, the Jewish emigration to Palestine. The 
Palestinian movement which had shortly before come into 
being* attracted many enthusiasts from among the Jewish 
youth. In the spring of 1882, a society of Jewish young men, 
consisting mostly of university students, was formed in Khar- 
kov under the name BUu, from the initial letters of their He- 
brew motto, Bet Ya'akob leku we-nelka " house of Jacob, 
come ye, and let us go." * The aim of the society was to estab- 
lish a model agricultural settlement in Palestine and to carry 
on a wide-spread propaganda for the idea of colonizing the an- 
cient homeland of the Jews. As a result of this propaganda, 

[*See above, p. 307.] 
J See later, p. 268. 
[• From Isa. 2.5.] 



several hundred Jews in various parts of Russia joined the 
BUu society. Of these only a few dozen pioneers left for Pales- 
tine — between June and July of 1882. 

At first, the leaders of the organization attempted to enter 
into negotiations with the Turkish Government, with a view 
to obtaining from it a large tract of land for colonizing 
purposes, but the negotiations fell through. The handful of 
pioneers were obliged to work in the agricultural settlements 
near Jaffa, in Mtiweh Israel, a foundation of the Alliance 
Israelite in Paris, and in the colony Bishon le-Zio*, which had 
been reoently established by private initiative. The youthful 
idealists had to endure many hardships in an unaocustomed 
environment and in a branch of endeavor entirely alien to them. 
A considerable part of the pioneers were soon forced to give 
up the struggle and make way for the new settlers who were 
less intelligent perhaps but physically bettor fitted for their 
task. The foundations of Palestinian colonization had been 
laid, though within exceedingly narrow limits, and the very idea 
of the national restoration ef the Jewish people in PaJesthfce 
was then as it was later a much greater social factor in Jewish 
life than the practical colonization of a country which could 
only absorb an insignificant number of laborers. At those 
moments, when ihe Russian horrors made life unbearable, the 
eyes of many sufferers were turned Eastward, towards the tiny 
strip of land on the shores of the Mediterranean, where the 
dream of a new life upon the resuscitated ruins of gray 
antiquity held out the promise of fulfilment. 

A contemporary writer, in surveying recent events in the 
Russian valley of tears, makes the following observations: 

Jewish life during the latter part of 1882 has assumed a 
monotonously gloomy, oppressively dull aspect True, the streets 


are Ho longer full of whirling feathers from torn bedding; the 
window-panes no longer crash through the streets. The thunder 
and lightning which were recently filling the air and gladdening 
the hearts of the Greek-Orthodox people are no more. But have the 
Jews actually gained toy the change from the illegal persecutions 
[in the form of pogroms] to the legal persecutions of the third of 
May? Maltreated, plundered, reduced to beggary* put to shame, 
slandered, and dispirited, the Jews hare been cast out of the com- 
munity of human beings. Their destitution, amounting to beg- 
gary, has been firmly established and definitely affixed to them. 
Gloomy darkness, without a ray of light, has descended upon that 
bewitched and narrow world in which this unhappy tribe has been 
languishing so long, gasping for breath in the suffocating atmos- 
phere of poverty and contempt Will this go on for a long time? 
Will the light of day break at last? 



1. Disillusionment or the Intelligentzia and 

the National Revival 

The catastrophe at the beginning of the eighties took the 
Jews of Russia unawares, and found them unprepared for 
spiritual self-defence. The impressions of the recent brief 
" era of reforms " were still fresh in their minds. They still 
remembered the initial steps of Alexander II.'s Government 
in the direction of the complete civil emancipation of Russian 
Jewry, the appeals of the intellectual classes of Russia calling 
upon the Jews to draw nearer to them, the bright prospects 
of a rejuvenated Russia. The niggardly gifts of the Russian 
Government were received by Russian Jewry with an out- 
burst of gratitude and devotion which bordered on flunkey- 
ism. The intellectual young Jews and Jewesses who had 
passed through the Russian public schools made frantic en- 
deavors, not only towards association but also towards complete 
cultural amalgamation with the Russian people. Assimilation 
and Russification became the watchwords of the day. The 
literary ideals of young Russia became the sacred tablets of 
the Jewish youth. 

But suddenly, lo and behold ! that same Russian people, in 
which the progressive forces of Jewry were ready to merge their 
identity, appeared in the shape of a monster, which belched 
forth hordes upon hordes of rioters and murderers. The Gov- 
ernment had changed front, and adopted a policy of reaction. 
and fierce Jew-hatred, while the liberal classes of Russia showed 



but scant sympathy with the down-trodden and maltreated 
nation. The voice of the hostile press, the Novoye Vremya, the 
Buss, and others, resounded through the air with full vigor, 
whereas the liberal press, owing partly — but only partly — to 
the tightening grip of the censor, defended the Jews in a per- ,< 
f unctory manner. Even the publicists of the radical type, who v 
were principally grouped around the periodical Otyeckest- 
vennyia Zapiski (" Becords of the Fatherland "), looked upon 
the pogroms merely as the brutal manifestation of an economic 
struggle, and viewed the whole complicated Jewish problem, 
with all its century-long tragic implications, in the light of 
a subordinate social-economic question. 

The only one whose soul was deeply stirred by the sight 
of the new sufferings of an ancient people was the Russian 
satirist, Shchedrin-Saltykov, and he poured forth his senti- 
ments in the summer of 1882, after the completion of the first 
cycle of pogroms, in an article marked by a lyric strain, so 
different from his usual style. 1 But Shchedrin was the only 
Bussian writer of prominence who responded to the Jewish 
sorrow. Turgenyev and Tolstoi held their peace, whereas the 

1 The article appeared in the Otyechestvennyia Zapiski in August, 
1882. The following sentences in that article are worthy of re- 
production: "History has never recorded in its pages a question 
more replete with sadness, more foreign to the sentiments of 
humanity, and more filled with tortures than the Jewish question. 
The history of mankind as a whole is one endless martyrology; 
yet at the same time it is also a record of endless progress. In 
the records of martyrology the Hebrew/ tribe occupies the first 
place; in the annals of progress it stands aside, as if the luminous 
perspectives of history could never reach it There is no more 
heart-rending tale than the story of this endless torture of man by 

In the same article the Russian satirist draws a clever parallel 
between the merciless Russian Kulak, or "boss," who ruins 
the peasantry, and the pitiful Jewish "exploiter," the half- 
starved tradesman, who in turn is exploited by everyone. 


literary celebrities of Western Europe, Victor Hugo, Benan, 
and many others, came forward with passionate protests. The 
Bussian intellupnxia* remained cold in the face of the burning 
tortures of Jewry. The educated classes of Bussian Jewry 
were hurt to the quick by this chilly attitude, and their former 
enthusiasm gare way to disillusionment. 

This disillusionment found its early expression in the lamen- 
tations of repentant assimilators. One of these assimilators, 
writing in the first months of the pogroms, makes the follow- 
ing confession: 

The cultured Jewish classes have turned their bade upon 
their history, hare forgotten their traditions, and have conceived a 
contempt for everything which might make them realise that they 
are the members of the " eternal people." With no definite ideals, 
dragging their Judaism behind them as a fugitive galley-slave 
drags his heavy chain, how could these men justify their belong- 
ing to the tribe of " Christ-killers " and " exploiters "?.... 
Truly pitiful has become the position of these assimilators, who 
but yesterday were the champions of national self-effacement 
Life demands self-determination. To sit between two stools has 
now become an Impossibility. The logic of events has placed 
them before the alternative: either to declare themselves openly 
as renegades, or to take their proper share in the sufferings of their 

Another representative of the Jewish irdelligenzia writes 
in the following strain to the editor of a Russian- Jewish peri- 
odical : 

When I remember what has been done to us, how we have been 
taught to love Russia and Russian speech, how we have been 
induced and compelled to Introduce the Russian language and 
everything Russian into our families so that our children know 
no other language but Russian, and how we are now repulsed 
and persecuted, then our hearts are filled with sickening despair 


from which there seems to be no escape. This terrible insult gnaws 
at my vitals. It may be that I am mistaken, but I do honestly 
believe that even if I succeeded in moving to a happier country 
where all men are equal, where there are no pogroms by day 
and " Jewish commissions " by night; I would yet remain sick at 
heart to the very end of my life— to such an extent do I feel worn 
out by this accursed year, this universal mental eclipse which 
has visited our dear fatherland. 

Russian-Jewish literature of that period is full of similar 
self -revelations of disillusioned intellectuals. However, this 
repentant mood did not always lead to positive results. Some 
of these intellectuals, having become part and parcel of Russian 
cultural life, were no longer able to find their way back to 
Judaism, and they were carried off by the current of assimila- 
tion, culminating in baptism. Others stood at the cross-roads, 
wavering between assimilation and Jewish nationalism. Still 
others were so stunned by the blow they had received that 
they reeled violently backward, and proclaimed as their slogan 
the return " home," in the sense of a complete renunciation 
of free criticism and of all strivings for inner reforms. 

However, in the healthy part of Russian Jewry this change 
of mind resulted in turning their ideals definitely in the 
direction of national rejuvenation upon modern foundations. 
The idea of a struggle for national rejuvenation in Russia 4 
itself had not yet matured. It appeared as an active force 
only in the following decade. 1 During the era of pogroms 
the salvation of Judaism was primarily associated with the 
idea of emigration. The champions of American emigration 
were prone to idealize this movement, which had in reality 
sprung from practical necessity, and they saw in it, not with- 

[*That idea was subsequently championed by the writer of this 
volume, See more about it in voL IIL] 


out justification, the beginning of a new free center of Judaism 
in the Diaspora. The Hebrew poet Judah Leib Gordon 1 
addresses " The Daughter of Jacob [the Jewish people], dis- 
graced by the son of Hamor [the Russian Government]" * in 
the following words: 

Come, let us go where liberty's light 
Doth shine upon all with equal might; 
Where every man, without disgrace, 
Is free to adhere to his creed and his race, 
Where thou, too, shalt no longer fear 
Dishonor from brutes, my sister dear! • 

The exponents of American emigration were inspired by the 
prospect of an exodus from the land of slavery into the land 
of freedom. Many of them looked forward to the establish- 
ment of agricultural and farming settlements in that country 
and to the concentration of large Jewish masses in the thinly 
populated States of the Union where they hoped the Jews 
might be granted a considerable amount of self-government. 

Side by side with the striving for a transplantation of Jewish 
centers within the Diaspora, another idea, which negatives 
the Diaspora altogether and places in its stead the resusci- 
tation of the Jewish national center in Palestine, struggled to 
life amidst the birth pangs of the pogroms. The first theoretic 
exponent of this new movement; called " Love of Zion," * was 
M. L. Lilienblum, who in a former stage of radicalism had 
preached the need of religious reforms in Judaism.' As far 

[* See p. 228 et seq.] 

[' An allusion to Gen. 34, with a play on the words Ben-hamor, 
" the son of an ass."] 

[* From his Hebrew poem Ahoti Ruhama, * My Beloved Sister."] 

[* A translation of the Hebrew term Hibbat Zion. In Russian 
it was generally termed PalestinopKUstvo, i. e. t "Love of Pales- 

[• See p. 236 et seq.} 


back as in the autumn of the first pogrom year Lilienblum 
published a series of articles in which he interpreted the idea 
of Palestinian colonization, which had but recently sprung 
to life, in the light of a common national task for the 
whole of Jewry. Lilienblum endeavored to show that the root 
of all the historic misfortunes of the Jewish people lay in the 
fact that it was in all lands an alien element which refuses 
to assimilate in its entirety with the dominant nation — with 
the landlord, as it were. The landlord tolerates his tenant 
only so long as he finds him convenient; let the tenant make 
the slightest attempt at competing with the landlord, and he 
will be promptly evicted. During the Middle Ages the Jews 
were persecuted in the name of religious fanaticism. Now 
a beginning has been made to persecute them in the name of 
national fanaticism, coupled with economic factors, and this 
" second chapter of our history will no doubt contain many 
a bloody page/' 

Jewish suffering can only be removed by removing its cause. 
We must cease to be strangers in every land of the globe, and 
establish ourselves in a country where we ourselves may be 
the landlords. Such a country can only be our ancient father- 
land, Palestine, which belongs to us by the right of history. 
" We must undertake the colonization of Palestine on so com- 
prehensive a scale that in the course of one century the Jews 
may be able to leave inhospitable Europe almost entirely and 
settle in the land of our forefathers to which we are legally 

These thoughts, expounded with that simplified logic which 
will strike certain types of mind as incontrovertible, were fully 
attuned to the sentiments of the Jewish masses which were 
standing with " girded loins," ready for their exodus from the 


new Egypt. The emigration societies formed in the beginning 
of 1882 counted in their ranks many advocates of Palestinian 
colonization. Bitter literary fends were waged between the 
"Americans" and "Palestinians." A young poet, Simon 
Frqg/ composed the following enthusiastic exodus mareh, 
which he prefaced by the biblical Terse " Speak unto the chil- 
dren of Israel, that they go forward " (Ex. 14. 15) : 

Thine eyes are keen, thy feet are strong, thy staff is firm — 

why then, my nation, 
Dost thou on the road stop and droop, thy gray head lost in 

Look up and see: in numerous bands 
Thy sons return from all the lands. 
Forward then march, through a sea of sorrow, 
Through a chain of tortures, towards the dawn of the 

Forward — to the strains of the song of days gone by!, 
For future ages like thunder to us cry: 
M Arise, my people, from thy grave, 
And live once more, a nation free and brave! " 
And in our ears songs of a new life ring. 
And hymns of triumph the storms to us sing. 

This march voiced the sentiments of those who dreamed 
of the Promised Land — whether it be on the shores of the 
Jordan or on the banks of the Mississippi. 


The conception of emigration as a means of national re- 
juvenation, which had sprung to life amidst the "thunder 
and lightning " of the pogroms, found a thoughtful exponent 
in the person of Dr. Leon Pinsker, a prominent communal 
worker in Odessa, who had at one time looked to assimila- 

[* He became later a celebrated poet in Russian and Yiddish. 
He died in 1916.] 


tion as promising a solution of the Jewish problem. In his pam- 
phlet * Autoemancipation " (published in September, 1882), 
which is marked by profound thinking, Pinsker vividly de- 
scribes the mental agony experienced by him at the sight 
of the physical slavery of the Jewry of Eussia and the spiritual 
slavery of the emancipated Jewry of Western Europe. To him 
the Jewish people in the Diaspora is not a living nation, 
but rather the ghost of a nation, haunting the globe and 
scaring all living national organisms. The salvation of 
Judaism can only be brought about by transforming this ghost 
into a real being, by re-establishing the Jewish people upon a 
territory of its own which might be obtained through the 
common endeavor of Jewry and through international Jewish 
co-operation in some convenient part of the globe, be it Pales- 
tine or America. Such is the way of Jewish autoemancipa- 
tion, in contradistinction from the civic emancipation, which 
had been bestowed by the dominant nationalities upon the Jews 
as an act of grace and which does not safeguard them against 
anti-Semitism and the humiliating position of second-rate citi- 
zens. The Jewish people can be restored, if, instead of many 
places of refuge scattered all over the globe, it will be concen- 
trated in one politically guaranteed place of refuge. For this 
purpose a general Jewish congress ought to be called which 
should be entrusted with the financial and political issues in- 
volved in the plan. The present generation must take the first 
step towards this national restoration; posterity will do the 

Pinekert pamphlet, which was written in German and 
printed abroad s with the intention of appealing to the Jews 

[*The first edition appeared in Berlin, in 1882. It bears the 
sub-title: "An Appeal to his Brethren by a Russian Jew." It 
was published anonymously.] 


of Western Europe, failed to produce any effect upon that 
assimilated section of the Jewish people. In Russia, however, 
it became the catechism of the " Love of Zion " moyement and 
eventually of Zionism and Territorialism. The theory ex- 
pounded in Pinsker's pamphlet made a strong appeal to the 
Russian Jews, not only on account of its close reasoning, but 
also because it gave powerful utterance to that pessimistic frame 
of mind which seemed to have seized upon them all. Its 
weakest point lay in the fact that it rested on a wrong historic 
premise and on a narrow definition of the term " nation " in 
the sense of a territorial and political organism. Pinsker 
seems to have overlooked that the Jews of the Diaspora, taken 
as a whole, have not ceased to form a nation, though of a type 
of its own, and thai in modern political history nations of this 
" cultural " complexion have appeared on the scene more and 
more frequently. 

Lacking a definite practical foundation, Pinsker's doctrine 
could not but accomodate itself to the Palestinian coloniza- 
tion movement, although its insignificant dimensions were en- 
tirely out of proportion to the far-reaching plans conceived by 
the author of " Autoemancipation." Idlienblum and Pinsker 
were joined by the old nationalist Smolenskin and the former 
assimilator Levanda. Ha-Shahar and harMelitz in Hebrew 
and the Eazsvyet in Russian became the literary vehicles of 
ihe new movement. In opposition to these tendencies, the 
Voskhod of St. Petersburg * reflected the ideas of the progres- 
sive Russian-Jewish intelligenzia, and defended their old 
position which was that of civil emancipation and inner Jewish 
reforms. In the middle between these two extremes stood 
the Russian weekly Russki Yevrey (" The Russian Jew "), in 

I 1 See p. 221. It appeared simultaneously as a weekly and a 


St Petersburg, and the Hebrew weekly ha^Tzefirah ("The 
Dawn "), in Warsaw, voicing the moderate views of the Has- 
kalah period, with a decided bent towards the nationalistic 

3. Miscarried Bbligious Keforms 

The storm of pogroms not only broke many young twigs 
on the tree of u enlightenment," which had attained to full 
bloom in the preceding period, but it also bent others into 
monstrous shapes. This abnormal development is particularly 
characteristic of the idea of religious reforms in Judaism 
which sprang to life in the beginning of the eighties. A 
fortnight before the pogrom at Yelisavetgrad, which inaug- 
urated another gloomy chapter in the annals of Bussian Jewry, 
the papers reported that a new Jewish sect had appeared in 
that city under the name of " The Spiritual Biblical Brother- 
hood/' Its members denied all religious dogmas and cere- 
monies, and acknowledged only the moral doctrines of the 
Bible; they condemned all mercantile pursuits, and endeavored 
to live by physical labor, primarily by agriculture. 

The founder of this " Brotherhood " was a local teacher 
and journalist, Jacob Gordin, who stood at that time under 
the influence of the South-Bussian Stundists * as well as of 
the socialistic Bussian Populists.* The "Spiritual Biblical 
Brotherhood" was made up altogether of a score of people. 
In a newspaper appeal which appeared shortly after the 
spring pogroms of 1881 the leader of the sect, hiding his 
identity under the pen-name of " A Brother-Biblist," called 
upon the Jews to divest themselves of those character traits and 

PA Russian sect with rationalistic tendencies which are trace- 
able to Western Protestantism.] 
[■ See above, p. 222.] 


economic pursuits which excited the hatred of the native pop- 
ulation against them : the love of money, the hunt for barter, 
usury, and petty trading. This appeal, which sounded in 
unison with the voice of the Bussiah Jew-baiters and appeared 
at a time when the wounds of the pogrom victims were not 
yet healed, aroused profound indignation among the Jews. 
Shortly afterwards the " Spiritual Biblical Brotherhood " fell 
asunder. Some of its members joined a like-minded seet in 
Odessa which had been founded there in the beginning of 
1882 by a teacher, Jacob Priluker, under the name of " New 

The aim of " New Israel " was to facilitate, by means of 
radical religious reforms conceived in the spirit of rational- 
ism, the contact between Jews and' Christians and thereby 
pave the way for civil emancipation. The twofold reKgio- 
social program of the sect was as follows: 

The sect recognizes only the teachings of Moses; it rejects the 
Talmud, the dietary laws, the rite of circumcision, and the tra- 
ditional form of worship; the day of rest is transferred from 
Saturday to Sunday; the Russian language is declared to be the 
"native" tongue of the Jews and made obligatory in everyday 
life; usury and similar distasteful pursuits are forbidden. 

As a reward for all these virtuous endeavors the sect ex* 


pected from the Russian Government, which it petitioned to 
that effect, complete civil equality for its members, permis- 
sion to intermarry with Christians, and the right to wear a 
special badge by which they were to be marked off from the 
"Talmudic Jews/' As an expression of gratitude for the 
anticipated governmental benefits, the members of the sect 
pledged themselves to give their boys and girls who were 
to be born during the coming year the names of Alexander 
or Alexandra, in honor of the Bussian Tzar. 


The fin* religious half of the program of " New Israel " 
might possibly hare attracted a few adherents. But the second 
" business-like " part of it opened the eyes of the public to 
the true aspirations of these " reformers/' who, in their eager- 
ness for civil equality, were ready to barter away religion, 
conscience, and honor, and who did not balk at betraying 
such low fiunkeyism at a time when the blood of the victims 
of the Balta pogrom had not yet dried. 

Thus it was that the withering influence of reactionary 
Judaeophobia compromised and crippled the second attempt at 
inner reforms in Judaism. Both movements soon passed) Out of 
existence, and their founders subsequently left Bussia. Qordin 
went to America, and, renouncing his sins of youth, became a 
popular Yiddish playwright. Priluker settled in England, and 
entered the employ of the missionaries who were anxious to 
propagate Christianity among the Jews. A few years later, 
during 1884 and 1885, u New Israel * cropped up in a new 
shape, this time in Kishinev, where the puny " Congregation of 
New Testament Israelites " was founded by I. Babinovich, hav- 
ing for its aim " the fusion of Judaism with Christianity/' In 
the house of prayer, in which this " Congregation/' consisting 
altogether of ten members, worshipped, sermons were also deliv- 
ered by a Protestant clergyman. % 

A few years later this new missionary device was also 
abandoned. The pestiferous atmosphere which surrounded 
Russian-Jewish life at that time could do no more than pro- 
duce these poisonous growths of " religious reform." For the 
wholesome seeds of such a reform were bound to wither after 
the collapse of the ideals which had served as a lode star 
during the period of " enlightenment" 



1. The Pahlen Commission and New Schemes of 


The « Temporary Rules * of May 3, 1882, had been passed, 
so to speak, as an extraordinary " war measure," outside the 
usual channel of legislative action. Tet the Russian Govern- 
ment could not but realize that sooner or later it would be 
bound to adopt the customary legal procedure and place the 
Jewish question before the highest court of the land, the Council 
of State. To meet this eventuality, it was necessary to pre- 
pare materials of a somewhat better quality than had been 
manufactured by the "gubernatorial commissions" and the 
" Central Jewish Committee " which owed their existence to 
Ignatyev, forming part and parcel of the general anti-Jewish 
policy of the discharged Minister. Even prior to the promul- 
gation of the " Temporary Rules/' the Council of Ministers 
had called the Tzar's attention to the necessity of appointing a 
special " High Commission " to deal with the Jewish question 
and to draft legal measures for submission to the Council of 

This suggestion was carried out on February 4, 1883, on 
which day an imperial ukase was issued calling for the forma* 
tion of a " High Commission for the Revision of the Current 
Laws concerning the Jews/' The chairmanship of the Com- 
mission was first entrusted to Makov, a former Minister of 
the Interior, and after his untimely death, to Count Pahlen, a 
former Minister of Justice, who guided the work of the Com- 


mission during the five years of its existence — hence its popu- 
lar designation as the "Pahlen Commission." The mem- 
bership of the Commission was made up of six officials repre- 
senting the various departments of the Ministry of the Interior, 
and of one official for each of the Ministries of Finance, Justice, 
Public Instruction, Crown Domains, and Foreign Affairs* 
and, lastly, of a few experts who were consulted casually. 

The new bureaucratic body received no definite instructions 
as to the period of time within which it was expected to com- 
plete its labors. It was evidently given to understand that 
the work entrusted to it could well afford to wait. The first 
session of the High Commission was held fully ten months 
after its official appointment by the Tzar, and its business pro- 
ceeded at a anal' pace, bounded by the mysterioJair 
characteristic of Bussian officialdom. For several years the 
High Commission had to work its way through the sad inheri- 
tance of the defunct " gubernatorial commissions," represented 
by mounds of paper with the most fantastic projects of solving 
the Jewish question, endeavoring to bring these materials into 
some kind of system. It also received a number of memoranda 
on the Jewish question from outsiders, among them from 
public-minded Jews, who in moat cases used Baron Horace 
Giinzburg as their go-between — memoranda which sought to 
put the various aspects of the question in their right perspec- 
tive. After four years spent on the examination of the ma- 
terial, the Commission undertook to formulate its own conclu- 
sions, but, for reamms which will become patent later on, these 
conclusions were never crystallized in the form of legal pro- 

While the High Commission was assiduously engaged in 
the "revision of the current laws concerning the Jews/' in 


other words, was repeating the Sisyphus task abandoned by 
scores of similar bureaucratic creations in the past, the Govern- 
ment pursued with unabated vigor its old-time policy of making 
the life of the Jews unbearable by turning out endless varieties 
of new legal restrictions. These restrictions were generally 
passed u outside the law," £ &., without their being previously 
submitted to the Council of State; they were simply brought 
up as suggestions before the Council of Ministers, and, after 
adoption by the latter, received legal sanction through ratifica- 
tion by the Tzar. Without awaiting the results of the revision 
of Jewish legislation which it had itself undertaken, the 
Russian Government embarked enthusiastically upon the task 
of forging new chains for the hapless Jewish race. For a 
number of years the High Commission was nothing more than 
a cover to screen these cruel experiments of the powers at the 
helm of the state. At the very time in which the ministerial 
officials serving on the High Commission indulged in abstract 
speculations about the Jewish question and invented various 
methods for its solution, the Council of Ministers anticipated 
this solution in the spirit of rabid anti-Semitism, and was 
quick to give it effect in concrete life. 

The wind which was blowing from the heights of Russian 
bureaucracy was decidedly unfavorable to the Jews. The 
belated coronation of Alexander III., which took place in 
May, 1883, and, in accordance with Russian tradition, brought, 
in the form of an imperial manifesto, 1 various privileges and 
alleviations for different sections of the Russian population, 
left the Jews severely alone. The Tzar lent an attentive ear 
to those zealous governors and governors-general, who in their 
" most humble reports " propounded the new-fangled theory 

[* See above, p. 246, n. L] 


of the u in juriousness " of the Jews ; the marginal remarks fre- 
quently attached by him to these reports assumed the force 
of binding resolutions/ In the beginning of 1883, the gov- 
ernor-general of Odessa, Gurko, took occasion in his report to 
the Tzar to comment on the excessive growth of the number 
of Jewish pupils in the gymnazia* and on their * injurious 
effect" upon their Christian fellow-pupils. Gurko proposed 
to fix a limited percentage for the admission of Jews to these 
schools, and the Tzar made the annotation : " I share this 
conviction; the matter ought to receive attention." 

The matter did of course "receive attention." It was 
brought up before the Committee of Ministers. But the latter 
was reluctant to pass upon it at once, and thought it wiser to 
have it prepared and duly submitted for legislative action at 
some future time. However, when the governor-general of 
Odessa and the governor of Kharkov, in their reports for the 
following year, expatiated again on the necessity of fixing a 
school norm for the Jews, the Tzar made another annotation 
in a more emphatic tone : " It is desirable to decide this ques- 
tion finally." This sufficed to impress the Committee of Min- 
isters with the conviction " that the growing influx of the non- 
Christian element into the educational establishments exerts, 
from a moral and religious point of view, a most injurious 
influence upon the Christian children." The question was 
submitted for consideration to the High Commission under the 
chairmanship of Count Pahlen. The Minister of Public 
Instruction was ordered to frame post-haste an enactment 
embodying the spirit of the imperial resolution. Soon the new 
fruit of the Eussian bureaucratic genius was ready to be 

['See on the term. "Resolution," voL I, p. 258, n. L] 
[* See above, p. 161, n. 1.] 



plucked — "the school norm," which was destined to occupy 
a prominent place in the fabric of Busman-Jewish disabilities. 
The center of gravity of the system of oppression lay, as it 
always did, in the restrictions attaching to the right of domi- 
cile and free movement — restrictions which frequently made 
life for the Jews physically impossible by cutting off their access 
to the sources of a livelihood. The " Temporary Bnles " of the 
third of May displayed in this domain a dazzling variety of 
legal tortures such as might have excited the envy of medieval 
inquisitors. The " May laws " of 1882 barred the Jews from 
settling outside the cities " anew," i. e., in the future, exempt- 
ing those who had settled in the rural districts prior to 1882. 
These old-time Jewish rustics were a thorn in the flesh of 
the Bussian anti-Semites, who hoped for a sudden disappear- 
ance of the Jewish population from the Bussian country-side. 
Accordingly, a whole set of administrative measures was put 
in motion, with a view to making the life of the village Jews 
unbearable. In another connection * we had occasion to point 
out that the Bussian authorities as well as the Christian com- 
petitors of the Jews made it their business to expel the latter 
from the rural localities as "vicious members," by having 
the peasant assemblies render special " verdicts " against them. 
This method was now supplemented by new contrivances to dis- 
lodge the Jews. A village Jew who happened to absent him- 
self for a few days or weeks to go to town was frequently 
barred by the police from returning to his home, on the ground 
that he was " a new settler." There are cases of Jewish fami- 
*• lies on record which, according to custom, had left the village 
for the High Holidays to attend services in an adjacent town 
or townlet, and which, on their return home, met with con- 

1 See p. 318 et *eq. 


siderahle difficulties, because their return was interpreted by 
the police as a "new settlement" In the dominions of the 
anti-Jewish satrap Drenteln the administration construed the 
" Temporary Bules yy to mean that Jews were not allowed to 
move from one village to another, or even from one house 
to another within the precincts of their native^village. 1 

Moreover, the police was authorized to expel from the vil- 
lages all those Jews who did not possess their own houses 
upon their own land, on the ground that these Jews, in renting 
new quarters, would have to make a new lease with their 
owners, and such a lease was forbidden by the May laws. 1 
These malicious misinterpretations of the law affected some 
ten thousand Jews in the villages of Chernigov and Poltava. 
These Jews lived habitually in rented houses or in houses 
which were their property but were built upon ground belong- 
ing to peasants, and they were consequently liable to expul- 
sion. The cry of these unfortunates, who were threatened 
with eviction in the dead of the winter, was heard not in 
near-by Kiev but in far-off St. Petersburg. By a senatorial 
ukase, published in January, 1884, a check was put on these 
administrative highway methods. The expulsion was stopped, 
though a considerable number of Jewish families had in the 
meantime been evicted and ruined. 

At the same time other restrictions which were in like 
manner deduced from the " Temporary Bules " were allowed 
to remain in full force. One of these was the prohibition 
of removing from one village to another, even though they 
were contiguous, so that the rural Jews were practically placed 
in the position of serfs, being affixed to their places of resi- 

'Evidence of this is found in the circular of the governor of 
Chernigov, issued in 1839. 
•See p. 311. 


deuce. This cruel practice was sanctioned by the lair of 
December 29, 1887. As a contemporary writer puts it, the law 
implied that when a village in which a Jew lived was burned 
down, or when a factory in which he worked was closed, he 
was compelled to remove into one of the towns or townlets, since 
he was not allowed to search for a shelter and a livelihood in 
any other rural locality. In accordance with the same law, a 
Jew had no right to offer shelter to his widowed mother or to 
his infirm parents who lived in another village. Furthermore, 
a Jew was barred from taking over a commercial or industrial 
establishment bequeathed to him by his father, if the latter 
had lived in another village. He was not even allowed to take 
charge of a house bequeathed to him by his parents, if they had 
resided in another village, though situated within the confines 
of the Pale. 

While this network of disabilities was ruining the Jews, 
it yielded a plentiful harvest for the police, from the highest 
to the lowest officials. "Graft," the Russian habeas carpus 
Act, shielded the persecuted Jew against the caprice and vio- 
lence of the authorities in the application of the restrictive 
laws, and Russian officialdom held on tightly to Jewish right- 
lessness as their own special benefice. Hatred of the Jews 
has at all times gone hand in hand with love of Jewish money. 

2. Jbwxsh Disabilities Outbids tot Pale 

Outside the Pale of Settlement the net of disabilities was 
stretched out even more widely and was sure to catch tfie 
Jew in its meshes. Throughout the length and breadth of the 
Russian Empire, outside of the fifteen governments of Western 
Russia and the ten governments of the Kingdom of Poland, 
there was scattered a handful of " privileged " Jews who were 


permitted to reside beyond the Pale : men with an academic edu- 
cation, first guild merchants who had for a number of years 
paid their guild dues within the Pale, and handicraftsmen, 
so long as they confined themselves to the pursuit of their 
craft. The influx of " illegal " Jews into this tabooed region 
was checked by measures of extraordinary severity. The 
example was set by the Bussian capital, " the window towards 
Europe," which had been broken through by Peter the Great. 
The city of St. Petersburg, harboring some 20,000 privileged 
Jews who lived there legally, became the center of attraction 
for a large number of "illegal" Jews who flocked to the 
capital with the intention, deemed a criminal offence by the 
Government, of engaging in some modest business pursuit, 
without paying the high guild dues, or of devoting themselves 
to science or literature, without the diploma from a higher 
educational institution in their pockets. The number of these 
Jews who obtained their right of residence through a legal 
fiction, by enrolling themselves as artisans or as employees of 
the u privileged " Jews, was very considerable, and the police 
expended a vast amount of energy in waging a fierce struggle 
against them. The city-governor of St. Petersburg, Gresser, 
who was notorious for the cruelty of his police regime, made 
it his specialty to hunt down the Jews. A contemporary writer, 
in reviewing the events of the year 1883, gives the following 
description of the exploits of the metropolitan police : 

The campaign was started at the very beginning of the year and 
continued uninterruptedly until the end of it Early in March 
the metropolitan police received orders to search most rigor- 
ously the Jewish residences and examine the passports. In the 
police stations special records were instituted for the Jews. St. 
Petersburg was to be purged of the odious Hebrew tribe. The con- 
trivances employed were no longer novel, and were the same 
whloh had been successfully tried in other cities. The Jews were 


raided in regular fashion. Those that were found with doubtful 
claims to residence in the capital were, frequently accompanied 
by their families, immediately dispatched to the proper railroad 
stations, escorted by policemen .... The time for departure was. 
measured by hours. The term of expulsion was generally limited 
to twenty-four hours, or forty-eight hours, as if it involved the 
execution of a court-martial sentence. And yet, the majority of 
the victims of expulsion were people who had lived in St Peters- 
burg for many years, and had succeeded in establishing homes 
and business places, which could not be liquidated within twenty- 
four hours or thereabout .... The hurried expulsions from the 
capital resulted in numerous conversions to Christianity .... 
Amusing stories circulated all oyer town concerning Jews who 
had decided to join the Christian Church, and had applied for 
permission to remain in the capital for one or two weeks — the 
time required by law for a preliminary training In the truths of 
tbo new faith — but whose petition was flatly refused because the 
police believed that a similar training might also be received 
within the boundaries of the Pale of Settlement 

As a matter of fact, fictitious conversions of this kind were 
but seldom resorted to in the fight against governmental vio- 
lence. As a rule, the evasion of the u law " was effected by less 
harmful, perhaps, but no less humiliating and even tragic 
fictions. Many a Jewish newcomer would bring with him on 
his arrival in St. Petersburg an artisan's certificate and enrol 
himself as an apprentice of some " full-fledged " Jewish arti- 
san. But woe betide if the police happened to visit the work- 
shop and fail to find the fictitious apprentice at work. He was 
liable to immediate expulsion, and the owner of the shop was 
no less exposed to grave risks. Some Jews, in their eagerness 
to obtain the right of residence, registered as man-servants in 
the employ of Jewish physicians or lawyers. 1 These would* 

1 Under the Russian law [see p. 166] Jews possessing a uni- 
versity diploma of the first degree were entitled to employ two 
" domestic servants " from among their coreligionists. 


be servants were frequently summoned to the police stations 
and cross-examined as to the character of their "service." 
The answers expected from them were something like: "I 
clean my master's boots, carry behind him his portfolio to 
court/* etc. Several prominent Jewish writers lived for many 
years in St. Petersburg on this " flunkeyish " basis — among 
them the talented young poet Simon Frag, 1 the singer of 
Jewish sorrow who was fast establishing for himself a repu- 
tation both in Jewish and in Kussian literature, 

It can easily be realized how precarious was the position 
of these men. Any day their passports might be found orna- 
mented by a red police notation ordering their expulsion from 
the capital within twenty-four hours. All Bussia was stirred 
at that time by the sensational story of a young Jewess, who 
had come to St. Petersburg or Moscow to enter the college 
courses for women, and in order to obtain the right of resi- 
dence found herself compelled to register fictitiously as a 
prostitute and take out "a yellow ticket." When the police 
discovered that the young woman was engaged in studying, in- 
stead of plying her official " trade," she was banished from the 
capital. In 1886, England was shocked by the expulsion from 
Moscow of the well-known English Member of Parliament, the 
banker Sir Samuel Montagu (later Lord Swaythling). Despite 
his influential position, Montagu was ordered out of the Kus- 
sian capital "within twenty-four hours," like an itinerant 

None of these tragedies, however, was able to produce any 
effect upon the ringleaders and henchmen of the Russian' in- 
quisition. The energy of the authorities spent itself primarily 
in the fight against the natural, yet, according to the Russian 

[* See p. 330.] 


raided in regular fashion. Those that were found with doubtful 
claims to residence in the capital were, frequently accompanied 
by their families, immediately dispatched to the proper railroad 
stations, escorted by policemen .... The time for departure was 
measured by hours. The term of expulsion was generally limited 
to twenty-four hours, or forty-eight hours, as if it involved the 
execution of a court-martial sentence. And yet, the majority of 
the victims of expulsion were people who had lived in St Peters- 
burg for many years, and had succeeded in establishing homes 
and business places, which could not be liquidated within twenty- 
four hours or thereabout .... The hurried expulsions from the 
capital resulted in numerous conversions to Christianity .... 
Amusing stories circulated all over town concerning Jews who 
had decided to join the Christian Church, and had applied for 
permission to remain in the capital for one or two weeks — the 
time required by law for a preliminary training in the truths of 
too new faith — but whose petition was flatly refused because the 
police believed that a similar training might also be received 
within the boundaries of the Pale of Settlement 

As a matter of fact, fictitious conversions of this kind were 
but seldom resorted to in the fight against governmental vio- 
lence. As a rule, the evasion of the " law " was effected by less 
harmful, perhaps, but no less humiliating and even tragic 
fictions. Many a Jewish newcomer would bring with him on 
his arrival in St. Petersburg an artisan's certificate and enrol 
himself as an apprentice of some u full-fledged " Jewish arti- 
san. But woe betide if the police happened to visit the work- 
shop and fail to find the fictitious apprentice at work. He was 
liable to immediate expulsion, and the owner of the shop was 
no less exposed to grave risks. Some Jews, in their eagerness 
to obtain the right of residence, registered as man-servants in 
the employ of Jewish physicians or lawyers. 1 These would- 

1 Under the Russian law [see p. 166] Jews possessing a uni- 
versity diploma of the first degree were entitled to employ two 
" domestic servants " from among their coreligionists. 


be servants were frequently summoned to the police stations 
and cross-examined as to the character of their "service." 
The answers expected from them were something like: "I 
clean my master's boots, carry behind him his portfolio to 
court," etc. Several prominent Jewish writers lived for many 
years in St. Petersburg on this "flunkeyish" basis — among 
them the talented young poet Simon Frag, 1 the singer of 
Jewish sorrow who was fast establishing for himself a repu- 
tation both in Jewish and in Russian literature, 

It can easily be realized how precarious was the position 
of these men. Any day their passports might be found orna- 
mented by a red police notation ordering their expulsion from 
the capital within twenty-four hours. All Russia was stirred 
at that time by the sensational story of a young Jewess, who 
had come to St. Petersburg or Moscow to enter the college 
courses for women, and in order to obtain the right of resi- 
dence found herself compelled to register fictitiously as a 
prostitute and take out "a yellow ticket" When the police 
discovered that the young woman was engaged in studying, in- 
stead of plying her official " trade," she was banished from the 
capital. In 1886, England was shocked by the expulsion from 
Moscow of the well-known English Member of Parliament, the 
banker Sir Samuel Montagu (later Lord Swaythling) . Despite 
his influential position, Montagu was ordered out of the Rus- 
sian capital "within twenty-four hours," like an itinerant 

None of these tragedies, however, was able to produce any 
effect upon the ringleaders and henchmen of the Russian in- 
quisition. The energy of the authorities spent itself primarily 
in the fight against the natural, yet, according to the Russian 

V See p. 330.] 


raided in regular fashion. Those that were found with doubtful 
claims to residence in the capital were, frequently accompanied 
by their families, immediately dispatched to the proper railroad 
stations, escorted by policemen .... The time for departure was 
measured by hours. The term of expulsion was generally limited 
to twenty-four hours, or forty-eight hours, as if it involved the 
execution of a court-martial sentence. And yet, the majority of 
the victims of expulsion were people who had lived in St Peters- 
burg for many years, and had succeeded in establishing homes 
and business places, which could not be liquidated within twenty- 
four hours or thereabout .... The hurried expulsions from the 
capital resulted in numerous conversions to Christianity .... 
Amusing stories circulated all over town concerning Jews who 
had decided to join the Christian Church, and had applied for 
permission to remain in the capital for one or two weeks — the 
time required by law for a preliminary training in the truths of 
too new faith — but whose petition was flatly refused because the 
police believed that a similar training might also be received 
within the boundaries of the Pale of Settlement. 

As a matter of fact, fictitious conversions of this kind were 
but seldom resorted to in the fight against governmental vio- 
lence. As a rule, the evasion of the u law " was effected by less 
harmful, perhaps, but no less humiliating and even tragic 
fictions. Many a Jewish newcomer would bring with him on 
his arrival in St. Petersburg an artisan's certificate and enrol 
himself as an apprentice of some a full-fledged " Jewish arti- 
san. But woe betide if the police happened to visit the work- 
shop and fail to find the fictitious apprentice at work. He was 
liable to immediate expulsion, and the owner of the shop was 
no less exposed to grave risks. Some Jews, in their eagerness 
to obtain the right of residence, registered as man-servants in 
the employ of Jewish physicians or lawyers. 1 These would- 

1 Under the Russian law [see p. 166] Jews possessing a uni- 
versity diploma of the first degree were entitled to employ two 
" domestic servants " from among their coreligionists. 


be servants were frequently summoned to the police stations 
and cross-examined as to the character of their "service." 
The answers expected from them were something like: "I 
clean my master's boots, carry behind him his portfolio to 
court/* etc. Several prominent Jewish writers lived for many 
years in St. Petersburg on this " flunkeyish " basis — among 
them the talented young poet Simon Frag, 1 the singer of 
Jewish sorrow who was fast establishing for himself a repu- 
tation both in Jewish and in Russian literature, 

It can easily be realized how precarious was the position 
of these men. Any day their passports might be found orna- 
mented by a red police notation ordering their expulsion from 
the capital within twenty-four hours. All Russia was stirred 
at that time by the sensational story of a young Jewess, who 
had come to St Petersburg or Moscow to enter the college 
courses for women, and in order to obtain the right of resi- 
dence found herself compelled to register fictitiously as a 
prostitute and take out " a yellow ticket." When the police 
discovered that the young woman was engaged in studying, in- 
stead of plying her official " trade," she was banished from the 
capital. In 1886, England was shocked by the expulsion from 
Moscow of the well-known English Member of Parliament, the 
banker Sir Samuel Montagu (later Lord Swaythling). Despite 
his influential position, Montagu was ordered out of the Rus- 
sian capital "within twenty-four hours," like an itinerant 

None of these tragedies, however, was able to produce any 
effect upon the ringleaders and henchmen of the Russian in- 
quisition. The energy of the authorities spent itself primarily 
in the fight against the natural, yet, according to the Russian 

[» See p. 330.] 


raided in regular fashion. Those that were found with doubtful 
claims to residence in the capital were, frequently accompanied 
by their families, immediately dispatched to the proper railroad 
stations, escorted by policemen .... The time for departure was 
measured by hours. The term of expulsion was generally limited 
to twenty-four hours, or forty-eight hours, as if it involved the 
execution of a court-martial sentence. And yet, the majority of 
the victims of expulsion were people who had lived in St Peters- 
burg for many years, and had succeeded in establishing homes 
and business places, which could not be liquidated within twenty- 
four hours or thereabout .... The hurried expulsions from the 
capital resulted in numerous conversions to Christianity .... 
Amusing stories circulated all over town concerning Jews who 
had decided to join the Christian Church, and had applied for 
permission to remain in the capital for one or two weeks — the 
time required by law for a preliminary training in the truths of 
too new faith — but whose petition was flatly refused because the 
police believed that a similar training might also be received 
within the boundaries of the Pale of Settlement. 

As a matter of fact, fictitious conversions of this kind were 
but seldom resorted to in the fight against governmental vio- 
lence. As a rule, the evasion of the " law * was effected by less 
harmful, perhaps, but no less humiliating and even tragic 
fictions. Many a Jewish newcomer would bring with him on 
his arrival in St. Petersburg an artisan's certificate and enrol 
himself as an apprentice of some " full-fledged " Jewish arti- 
san. But woe betide if the police happened to visit the work- 
shop and fail to find the fictitious apprentice at work. He was 
liable to immediate expulsion, and the owner of the shop was 
no less exposed to grave risks. Some Jews, in their eagerness 
to obtain the right of residence, registered as man-servants in 
the employ of Jewish physicians or lawyers. 1 These would* 

1 Under the Russian law [see p. 166] Jews possessing a uni- 
versity diploma of the first degree were entitled to employ two 
" domestic servants " from among their coreligionists. 



be servants were frequently summoned to the police stations 
and cross-examined as to the character of their "service." 
The answers expected from them were something like: "I 
clean my master's boots, carry behind him his portfolio to 
court," etc. Several prominent Jewish writers lived for many 
years in St. Petersburg on this €€ flunkeyish " basis — among 
them the talented young poet Simon Frag, 1 the singer of 
Jewish sorrow who was fast establishing for himself a repu- 
tation both in Jewish and in Russian literature. 

It can easily be realized how precarious was the position 
of these men. Any day their passports might be found orna- 
mented by a red police notation ordering their expulsion from 
the capital within twenty-four hours. All Russia was stirred 
at that time by the sensational story of a young Jewess, who 
had come to St. Petersburg or Moscow to enter the college 
courses for women, and in order to obtain the right of resi- 
dence found herself compelled to register fictitiously as a 
prostitute and take out " a yellow ticket." When the police 
discovered that the young woman was engaged in studying, in- 
stead of plying her official " trade," she was banished from the 
capital. In 1886, England was shocked by the expulsion from 
Moscow of the well-known English Member of Parliament, the 
banker Sir Samuel Montagu (later Lord Swaythling) . Despite 
his influential position, Montagu was ordered out of the Rus- 
sian capital "within twenty-four hours," like an itinerant 

None of these tragedies, however, was able to produce any 
effect upon the ringleaders and henchmen of the Russian' in- 
quisition. The energy of the authorities spent itself primarily 
in the fight against the natural, yet, according to the Russian 

[* See p. 330.] 


code, "illegal " straggle of the Jews for their existence and 
against the sacred right of man to move about freely. The 
merciless Russian law, trampling upon this inviolable right, 
drove human beings from village to town and from one town 
to another. In the hotbed of militant Judaeophobia, in 
Kiev, raids upon " illegal " Jewish residents were the order of 
the day. Daring the year 1886 alone more than two thousand 
Jewish families were evicted from the town. 1 Not satisfied 
with the expulsion of the Jews from the towns prohibited to 
them by law, the authorities contrived to swell the number of 
these towns by adding new localities which were part of the 
Pale and as such open to the Jews. In 1887, the large South- 
Russian cities Bostov-on-the Don and Taganrog were trans- 
ferred from the Pale of Settlement * to the tabooed territory 
of the Don Army. Those Jews who had lived in these cities 
before the promulgation of the law were allowed to remain, but 
the new settling of Jews was strictly forbidden. 

Not satisfied with constantly lessening the area in which, 
without any further restrictions, the Jewish population was 
gasping for breath, the Government was on the look-out for 
ways and means to narrow also the sphere of Jewish economic 
activity. The medieval system of Russian society with its 
division into estates and guilds became an instrument of 
Jewish oppression. The authorities openly followed the maxim 
that the Jew was to be robbed of his profession, to the end that 
it may be turned over to his Christian rival. Under Alex- 
ander II. the Government had endeavored to promote handi- 

* These intensified persecutions were popularly explained as an 
act of revenge on the part of the highest administration of tha 
region, owing to a Quarrel which had taken place between a rich 
Kiev Jew and a Russian dignitary. 

[* They formed part of the government of TekaterinoslaT.] 


crafts among the Jews as a counterbalance against their 
commercial pursuits, and had therefore conferred upon Jewish 
artisans the right of residence all oyer the Empire. The change 
of policy under Alexander III. is well illustrated by the ukase 
of 1884 closing the Jewish school of handicrafts in Zhitomir 
which had been in existence for twenty-three years. The 
reason for the enactment is stated with brazen impudence : 

Owing to the fact that the Jews living in the towns and town- 
lets of the south-western region form the majority of handicrafts- 
men, and thereby hamper the development of handicrafts among 
the original population of that region, which is exploited by them, 
the existence of a specific Jewish school of handicrafts seems, 
in view of the lack of similar schools among the Christians, an 
additional weapon in the hands of the Jews for the exploitation 
of the original population of that region. 

Here the pursuit of handicrafts is actually stigmatized as a 
means of " exploitation," The true meaning of that terrible 
word 9 an invention of the Bussian Government, is thereby put 
in a glaring light : the Jew is an u exploiter " so long as he 
follows any pursuit, however honorable and productive, in 
which a Christian might engage in his stead. 

The slightest attempt of the Jew to enlarge his economic 
activity met with the relentless punishment of the law. The 
Jewish artisan, though permitted to live outside the Pale, had 
only the right to sell the products of his own workmanship. 
When found to sell other merchandise which was not manu- 
factured by him he was liable, under Article 1171 of the Penal 
Code, not only to be immediately expelled from his place of resi- 
dence but also to have his goods confiscated. The Christian 
competitors of the Jews> shoulder to shoulder with the police, 
kept a careful watch over the Jewish artisans and saw to it 
that a Jewish tailor should not dare to sell a piece of material, 


a watchmaker — a new factory-made watch with a chain 
(being only allowed to repair old watches), a baker — a pound 
of flour or a cup of coffee. The discovery of such a " crime " 
was followed immediately by cutting short the career of the 
poor artisan, in accordance with the provisions of the law. 

3. Restrictions in Education and in the Legal 


A salient feature of that gloomy era of counter-reforms was 
the endeavor of the Government to dislodge the Jews from the 
liberal professions, and, as a corollary, to bar them from the 
secondary and higher schools which were the training ground 
for these professions. What the Government had in view was 
to reduce the number of those " privileged " Jews, who, under 
the law passed in the time of Alexander II., had been rewarded 
for their completion of a course of studies in an institution 
of higher learning by the right of unrestricted residence 
throughout the Empire. The authorities now found it to their 
purpose to hamper the spread of education among the Jews 
rather than promote it. The highly-placed obscurantists con- 
tended that the Jewish students exerted an injurious influence 
upon their Christian comrades from the religious and moral 
point of view, while the political police 1 reported that the 
Jewish college men "are quick in joining the ranks of the 
revolutionary workers." *The fear of educated Russian sub- 
jects who were not of the dominant faith was natural in a 
country in which Pobyedonostzev, the moving spirit of inner 
Bussian politics, looked upon popular education in general 
as a destructive force, fraught with danger to throne and 

[* The secret police charged with tracking the followers of liberal 
and revolutionary tendencies.] 


altar. There can be but little doubt that the previously-men- 
tioned imperial " resolutions " * indicating the necessity of 
curtailing the number of Jews in the Russian educational 
establishments were inspired by the " Srand Inquisitor/' 

Notwithstanding the opposition of the majority of the 
Pahlen Commission, whose members had not yet entirely 
discarded the enlightened traditions of the reign of Alex- 
gander II., the question was decided in accordance with the 
wishes of the Tzar. Here, too, as in the case of the " Tempo- 
rary Exiles," the Government was resolved to enact the new 
disabilities by the sovereign will of the emperor, without sub- 
mitting them to the highest legislative body of the land, the 
Council of State, for fear that undesirable debates might arise 
in that august body concerning the expediency of putting an 
embargo on education. On December 5, 1886, the Tzar, acting, 
on the suggestion of the Committee of Ministers, directed the 
Minister of Public Instruction, Dyelanov, to adopt measures 
for the limitation of the admission of Jews to the secondary 
and higher educational establishments. 

For six long months the Minister, whose official duty was 
the promotion of education, was wavering between a number 
of schemes designed to restrict education among the Jews. 
Suggestions for such restrictions came from officials of the 
ministry and from superintendents of school districts. Some 
proposed to close the schools only to the children of the 
lower classes among the Jews, in which " the unsympathetic 
traits of the Jewish character " were particularly conspicuous. 
Others recommended a restrictive percentage for Jews in 
general, without any class discrimination. Still others pleaded 
for moderation lest excessive restriction in admission to Rus- 
sian universities should force the Jewish youth to go to foreign 

[* See p. 839 et *eq.] 


universities and make them even "more dangerous," since 
they were bound to return to Russia with liberal notions con* 
cerning the political form of government. 

At last, in July, 1887, the Minister of Public Instruction, 
acting on the above-mentioned imperial "resolution," pub- 
lished his two famous circulars limiting the admission of Jews 
to the universities and to secondary schools. The following 
norm was established : in the Pale of Settlement the Jews were 
to be admitted to the schools to the extent of ten per cent of 
the Christian school population; outside the Pale the norm was 
fixed at five per cent, and in the two capitals, St. Petersburg 
and Moscow, at three per cent. Although decreed before the 
very beginning of the new scholastic year, the percentage norm 
was nevertheless immediately applied in the case of the gym- 
nazia, the " Real schools," * and the universities. In the higher 
professional institutions, such as the technological, veterina- 
rian, and agronomical schools, the restrictions had been prac- 
tised even before the promulgation of the circular, or were 
introduced immediately after it. 

This was the genesis of the educational " percentage norm," 
the source of sorrow and tears for two generations of Russian 
j €W8 — both fathers and sons now having run the gauntlet. 
In the months of July and August of every year, thousands 
of Jewish children were knocking at the doors of the gymnasia 
and universities, but only tens and hundreds obtained admis- 
sion. In the towns of the Pale where the Jews form from 
thirty to eighty per cent of the total population, the admission 
of Jewish pupils to the gymnazia and "Real schools" was 
limited to ten per cent, so that the majority of Jewish children 
were deprived of a secondary education. 

[* Or Real Chymnazia, gee above, p. 163, n. L] 


The position of the gymnazium and "Real school" grad- 
uates who were unable to continue their studies in the insti- 
tutions of higher learning was particularly tragic. Many of 
these unfortunates addressed personal appeals to the Minister 
of Public Instruction, Dyelanov, who, being good-natured, 
would, despite his reactionary proclivities, frequently sanc- 
tion the admission of the petitioners over and above the school 
norm. But the majority of the young men, barred from the 
colleges, found themselves compelled to go abroad in search 
of education, and, being generally without means, suffered 
untold hardships. 

Nevertheless, the cruel restrictions could not suppress the 
need for education in a people with an ancient culture. Those 
that had failed to gain admission to the gymnazia completed 
the prescribed course of studies at home, under the guidance 
of private tutors or by private study, and afterwards presented 
themselves for examination for the " maturity certificate " * as 
"externs," braving all the difficulties of this thorny path. 
Having successfully passed their secondary course, they found 
again their way barred as soon as they wished to enter the 
universities, and the "martyrs of learning" had no choice 
left except to take up their pilgrim staff and travel abroad. 
Year in, year out, two processions of emigrants wended their 
way from Russia to the West : the one was travelling across the 
Atlantic, in search of bread and liberty; the other was headed 
towards Germany, Austria, England, and France, in search of 
a higher education. The former were driven from their homes 
by a peculiar vnterdictio ignis et aquae; the other — by an inter- 
dictio scientiae. 

[* The name given In Russian (and German ) to the diploma of a 


Having closed the avenues of higher education to the bulk 
of Kussian Jewry, the Government now went a step further 
and contrived to dispossess even those Jews who had already 
managed to obtain a higher education, in spite of all diffi- 
culties. It was not satisfied with barring college-bred Jews 
from the civil service and an academic career, thus limiting 
the Jewish physicians and lawyers to private practice; it was 
anxious to restrict even this narrow field of activity still open 
»to Jews. In view of the fact that the Jewish jurists had no 
chance to apply their knowledge in the civil service, and were 
entirely excluded from the bench, they naturally turned to 
the bar, with the result that they soon occupied a conspicuous 
place there, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Their suc- 
cess was a source of annoyance to the Russian anti-Semites, 
both those who hated the Jews on principle and those who 
did so selfishly, being themselves members of the bar. These 
enemies of Judaism called the attention of the Government 
to the large number of Jewish lawyers at the St. Petersburg 
bar — a circumstance due partly to the natural gravitation 
towards the administrative and legal center of the country, 
and partly to the fact that the admission of Jews to the bar 
met with less obstruction from the judicial authorities in the 
capital than in the provinces, where professional jealousy fre- 
quently stood in the way of the Jews. 

The reactionary Minister of Justice, Manassein, managed 
to convince the Tzar that it was necessary to check the further 
admission of Jews to the bar. However, from diplomatic con- 
siderations, it was thought wiser to carry this restriction into 
effect not under an anti-Jewish flag, but rather as a general 
measure directed against all members of " non-Christian per- 
suasions." The restriction was therefore extended to Moham- 


medans and the handful of privileged Karaites, 1 and the 
religious intolerance of the new measure was thus thrown into 
even bolder relief. 

On November, 1889, an imperial ukase decreed as follows : 

ThAt, pending the enactment of a special law dealing with this 
subject, the admission of public and private attorneys of non- 
Christian denominations by the competent judicial institutions and 
bar associations * shall not take place, except with the permission of 
the Minister of Justice, on the recommendation of the presidents 
of the above-mentioned institutions and associations. 1 

It goes without saying that the Russian Minister of Justice 
made ample use of the right conferred upon him of denying 
admission to Jews as public and private attorneys. While 
readily sanctioning the admission 6f Mohammedans and Ka- 
raites, the Minister almost invariably refused to confirm the 
election of young Jewish barristers, however warmly they may 
have been recommended by the judicial institutions and bar 
associations.* In this way, many a talented Jewish jurist, who- 
might have filled a university chair with distinction or might 
have attained brilliant success in the legal profession, was. 
forced out of his path and deprived of an opportunity to serve 
his country by his labors and pursue a career for which he had 
fitted himself at the university. Instead, these derailed pro- 
fessionals went to swell the hosts of those who had been 
wronged and disinherited by the injustice of the law. 

[* See on the Karaites, vol. I, p. 318.] 

[' " Public (literally, sworn) attorneys " are lawyers of academic 
standing admitted to the bar by the bar associations. " Private 
attorneys" are lawyers without educational qualifications who 
receive permission to practise from the "judicial institutions,"' 
i. e., the law courts. They are notmembers of the bar.] 

* During the following five years, until 1895, not a single Jew 
received the sanction of the Minister. 




4. Discrimination in Military Service 

It seemed as if the Government was intent on making a 
one-sided compact with Bussian Jewry: "We shall deprive 
you of all the elementary rights due to you as men and citizens; 
we shall rob you of the light of domicile and freedom of move- 
ment, and of the chance of making a livelihood; we shall ex- 
pose you to physical and spiritual starvation, and shall cast you 
out of the community of citizens — yet you dare not swerve an 
inch from the path of your civic obligations." A lurid illus- 
tration of this unique exchange of services was provided by 
the manner in which military duty was imposed upon the Jews. 
Bussian legislation had long since contrived to establish revolt- 
ing restrictions for the Jews also in this domain. Jews with 
physical defects which rendered Christians unfit for military 
service, such as a lower stature and narrower chest, were never- 
theless taken into the army. In the case of a shortage of 
recruits among the Jewish population even only sons, the sole 
wage-earners of their families or of their widowed mothers, 
were drafted, whereas the same category of conscripts among 
Christians were unconditionally exempt. 1 Moreover, a Jew 
serving in the army always remained a private and could never 
attain to an officer's rank. 

As if the Government intended to make sport of the Jewish 
.soldiers, the latter were deprived of their right of residence 
in the localities outside the Pale where they had been stationed, 
and as soon as their term of service had expired, were sent 
A back into the territory of the Bussian-Jewish ghetto. Thus, 
even Nicholas I. was out-Mcholased. The discharged Jewish 
soldiers who had served under the old recruiting law enjoyed, 
both for themselves and their families, the right of residence 

[* Compare p. 201.1 


throughout the Empire. 1 The new military statute of 1874 * 
withdrew from the retired Jewish soldiers this reward for 
faithfully performed duty, and in 1885 the Senate sustained 
the disfranchisement of these Jews who had spent years of 
their life in the serriee of their fatherland. A Jew from 
Berdychev, Vilna, or Odessa, who had served five or six years 
somewhere in St. Petersburg, Moscow, or Kazan, was forced 
to leave these tabooed cities and return home on the very day 
on which he had taken off his soldier's uniform. 

Yet, despite this curious encouragement of Jewish patriot- 
ism, the Government had the audacity to charge the Jews con- 
tinually with the "evasion of their military duty." That a 
tendency towards such evasion was in vogue among the Jews 
admits of no doubt. It would have been contrary to human 
nature if people who were subject to assaults from above and 
kicks from below, whose right of residence was limited to one- 
twentieth of the territory of their fatherland, who were robbed 
of shelter, air, and bread, and deprived of the hope to place 
themselves, even by means of military service, on an equal 
footing with the lowest Bussian moujik, should have felt a 
profound need of sacrificing themselves for their country, and 
should not have shirked this heaviest of civil obligations to a 
larger extent than the privileged Bussian population, in which 
cases of evasion were by no means infrequent. In reality, how- 
ever, the complainfa about the shortage of Jewish recruits 
were vastly exaggerated. Subsequent statistical investigations 
brought out the fact that, owing to irregular apportionment, 
the Government demanded annually from the Jews a larger 
quota of recruits than was justified by their numerical rela- 
tion to the general population in the Pale of Settlement. On 

I 1 See above, p. 172.] 
[* See p. 199 et $eq.] 


an average, the Jews furnished twelve per cent of the total 
number of recruits in the Pale, whereas the Jewish population 
of the Pale formed but eleven per cent of the total population. 
The Government further refused to consider the fact that, 
owing to inaccurate registration, the conscription lists often 
carried the names of persons who had long since died, or who 
had left the country to emigrate abroad. In fact, the annual 
emigration of Jews from Russia, the result of uninterrupted 
persecutions, reduced the number of young men of conscrip- 
tion age. But the Russian authorities were of the opinion 
that the Jew* who remained behind should serve in the Bussian 
army instead of those of their brethren who had become citi- 
zens of the free American Republic. The " evasion of military 
duty " and the annual shortage of a few hundred recruits, as 
against the many thousands of those enlisted, was charged as 
a grave crime against that very people towards which the Gov- 
ernment on its part failed to fulfil even its most elementary 
obligations. Reams of paper were covered with all kinds of 
official devices to "cut short" this evasion of military duty 
by the Jews. On one beautiful April morning of 1886, the 
Government came out with the following enactment: 

The family of a Jew guilty of evading military service is liable 
to a fine of three hundred rubles ($150). The collection of the 
fine phall be decreed by the respective recruiting station and 
carried out by the police. It shall not be substituted by imprison- 
ment in the case of destitute persons liable to that fine. 

In addition, a military reward was promised for the seizure 
of a Jew who had failed to present himself to the recruiting 

By virtue of this barbarous principle of collective respon- 
sibility, new hardships were inflicted upon the Jews of Russia. 
Since the law provided that the fine for evading military 


service be imposed upon the family of the culprit, the police 
interpreted that term " liberally/' taking it to include parents, 
brothers, and near relatives. The following procedure grad- 
ually came into vogue. In the autumn of every year, the 
Russian conscription season, the names of the young Jews 
who have completed their twenty-first year are called out at 
the recruiting station from a prepared list. When a Jew 
whose name has been called has failed to present himself on 
the same day, the recruiting authorities issue an order on the 
spot imposing a fine on his family. The police then appear 
in the house of his parents to collect the sum of three hundred 
rubles. In default of cash, they attach the property of the 
paupers and have it subsequently sold at public auction. In 
the case of those who possess nothing that can be taken from 
them the police insist on their giving a signed promise not 
to leave the town. Their passports axe taken from them, so 
that, not being able to absent themselves from town to earn a 
living, they are frequently left to starve. If the parents are 
dead or absent, the brothers and sisters of the culprit, and then 
his grandfathers and grandmothers are held answerable with 
their property. 

Thus, a large number of Jewish families were completely 
ruined, merely because one of their members had emigrated 
abroad, or, as was frequently the case, had surrendered his 
soul to God in his beloved fatherland itself, and the relatives 
had failed to see to it that the dead soul was stricken from 
the recruiting lists. Yet, despite all these efforts, there 
still remained a considerable number of uncollected fines — 
"arrears," as they were officially termed— to the profound 
regret of the Bussian Jew-baiters, who had to look on while 
the victims were slipping unpunished from their hands. 


1. Aftermath of the Pogrom Policy 

In this wise, beginning with the May laws of 1882, the Gov- 
ernment gradually succeeded in monopolizing all anti-Jewish 
activities by letting bureaucratic persecutions take the place of 
street pogroms. However ? in 1883 and 1884, the " street " 
made again occasional attempts to compete with the Gov- 
ernment. On May 10, 1883, on the eve of Alexander III.'s 
coronation, a pogrom took place in the large southern city of 
Rostov-on-the-Don. About a hundred Jewish residences and 
business places were demolished and plundered. All portable 
property of the Jews was looted by the mob, and- the rest was 
destroyed. As was to be expected, " the efforts of the police 
and troops were unable to stop the' disorders," and only after 
completing their day's work the rioters fled, pursued by lashes 
and shots from the Cossaks. The Russian censorship strictly 
barred all references to the pogroms in the newspapers, for 
fear of spoiling the solemnity of the coronation days. The 
press was only allowed to hint at " alarming rumors," the 
effect of which extended even to the stock exchange of Berlin. 
Not before a year had passed was permission given to make 
public mention of the Rostov events. 

There was reason to fear that the pogrom at Rostov was 
only a prelude to a new series of riots in the South. But 
more than two months had passed, and all seemed to be quiet. 
Suddenly, however, on July 20, on the Greek-Orthodox festival 
dedicated to the memory of the prophet Elijah, the Russian 


mob made an attack upon the descendants of the ancient 
prophet at Yekaterinoslav. The memory of the great biblical 
Nazirite who abhorred strong drink was appropriately cele- 
brated by his Russian votaries in Yekaterinoslav who filled |i 
themselves with an immense quantity of alcohol and became 
sufficiently intoxicated to embark upon their daring exploits 
as robbers. 

The ringleaders of the pogrom movement were not local 
residents but itinerant laborers from the Great-Russian govern- 
ments, who were employed in building a railroad in the neigh- 
borhood of tiie South-Russian city. These laborers, to quote 
the expression of a contemporary, attended to the " military 
part of the undertaking," whereas the " civil functions " were 
discharged by the local Russian inhabitants: 

While the laborers and the stronger half of the residents were 
demolishing the houses and stores and throwing all articles and 
merchandise upon the street, the women and children grabbed 
everything that came into their hands and carried them off, by 
hand or in wagons, to their homes. 

The looting and plundering continued on the second day, 
July 21, until a detachment of soldiers arrived. The mob, 
intoxicated with their success, attempted to beat off the 
soldiers, but naturally suffered defeat. The sight of a score 
of killed and wounded had a sobering effect upon the crowd. 
The pogrom was stopped, after five hundred Jewish families 
had been ruined and a Jewish sanctuary had been defiled. 
In one devastated synagogue the human fiends got hold of 
eleven Torah scrolls, tearing to pieces some of them and 
hideously desecrating other copies of the Holy Writ, inscribed 
with the commandments, " Thou shalt not murder/* a Thou 
shalt not steal," " Thou shalt not (commit adultery n — which 
evidently ran counter to the beliefs of the rioters. 


The example set by Yekaterinoslav, the capital of the gov- 
ernment of the same name, proved to be contagious, for 
during August and September pogroms took place in several 
neighboring towns and townlets. Among these the pogrom 
at Novo-MoskovBk on September 4 was particularly violent, 
nearly all Jewish houses in that town having been destroyed 
by the mob. 
ta The year 1884 was marked by a novel feature in the annals 
of pogroms : an anti- Jewish riot outside the Pale of Jewish 
Settlement, in the ancient Russian city of Nizhni-Novgorod, 
which sheltered a small Jewish colony of some twenty families. 
While comparatively circumscribed as far as the material loss 
is concerned, the Nizhni-Novgorod pogrom stands out in 
ghastly relief by the number of its human victims. A report, 
based upon official data, which endeavors to tone down the 
colors, gives the following description of the terrible events: 

The "disorders" [a euphemism for excesses accompanied by- 
murder] began on June 7 about nine o'clock in the evening, due 
to the instigation of several half-drunk laborers who happened 
to overhear a Christian mother telling her child, who was playing 
with a Jewish girl, to stop playing with her, as the Jews might 
slaughter her. The work of destruction began with the Jewish 
house of prayer which was crowded with worshippers. It was 
followed by the demolition of Ave more houses owned by Jews. 
In these houses the mob destroyed everything that fell into its 
hands. The doors and windows were broken and everything 
inside was thrown into the streets. On this occasion six adults 
and one boy was killed; five Jews were wounded, two of whom 
died soon afterwards. 

The governor of Nizhni-Novgorod reported that the dis- 
orders could not possibly have been foreseen. Yet there can 
be no doubt that the people were to a certain extent prepared 
for them. The investigations of the police and the judicial 


inquiry both converged to prove that the Nizhni-Novgorod 
excesses were prompted primarily, if not exclusively, by the 
desire for plunder. In all demolished houses not a single 
article of value that could be removed was destroyed, and 
not only money but anything at all that was fit for use was 
looted. That the disorders broke out on the seventh of June 
was, in the opinion of the governor, entirely accidental, but 
that they were directed against the Jews was due to the 
fact that the people had been led to believe that even the 
gravest crimes were practically unpunishable, so long as they 
were committed against the Jews, and not against other 

An additional reason for the pogrom was the reputed wealth 
of a goodly number of the Jewish families of Nizhni-Nov- 
gorod. The judicial investigation brought out the fact that 
before attacking the offices of Daitzelman, a big Moscow 
merchant, the mob was directed by shouts: "Let us go to 
Daitzelman; there is a lot to be gotten there/' The murder 
of Daitzelman, who was beloved by his Russian laborers, and 
that of other Jews, was not prompted by revenge, but by mere 
purposeless savagery. It is impossible to assume that the 
mob was moved to action by the rumor which had been 
spread by the ringleaders of the rioting hordes concerning 
the kidnapping of a Christian child by the Jews — the more 
so since at the very beginning of the excesses the police pro- 
duced the supposedly kidnapped child whole and intact, and 
showed it to the crowd. The pogrom was due primarily to 
the savagery of brutal and unenlightened mobs, who found an 
opportunity to vent their beastly instincts, fortified by the con- 
viction of complete immunity, which is referred to in the 
report of the governor. 


Even the central Government in St. Petersburg was alarmed 
by the St. Bartholemew night which had been enacted at 
Nizhni-Novgorod. At the recommendation of Governor Bara- 
nov, the murderers were tried by court-martial and suffered 
heavy punishment. Nevertheless, the same governor thought 
it his duty to appease the Russian popular conscience by 
ordering the expulsion of those Jews whom the police had 
found to live outside the Pale "without a legal basis." In 
this wise, the Russian administration once more managed to 
follow up a street pogrom by a legal one, not realizing the fact 
that the atrocities perpetrated upon the Jews by the mob were 
merely a crude copy of the atrocities perpetrated upon them by 
the Government, and that the outlawed condition of the Jews 
bred the lawlessness and violence of the mob, which was fully 
aware of the anti-Semitic sentiments of the official world. The 
bloody saturnalia of Nizhni-Novgorod had, however, the benefi- 
cent effect that the Government, fearing the spread of the 
conflagration outside the Pale and even outside Jewry, took 
energetic steps to prevent all further excesses. As a matter of 
fact, the Nizhni-Novgorod pogrom was the last in the annals 
of the eighties — with the exception of a few unimportant 
occurrences in various localities. For six years " the land was 
quiet," and the monopoly of a silent pogroms," in the shape of 
the systematic denial of Jewish rights, remained firmly in the 
hands of the Government. 

2. The Conclusions of the Pahlbn Commission 

Whilst the Russian bureaucrats who had been ordered by 
the Tzar to take " active " measures towards solving the 
Jewish problem abandoned themselves entirely to a policy of 
repression, those of their fellow-bureaucrats who had been 


commissioned to consider and judge the same question from 
a purely theoretic point of view came to the conclusion that 
the repressive policy pursued by the Government was not only 
injurious but even dangerous. Contrary to expectations, the 
"High Commission" under the chairmanship of Count Pahlen, 
consisting of aged dignitaries and members of various minis- 
tries, approached the Jewish question, at least as far as the 
majority of the Commission was concerned, in a much more 
serious frame of mind than did the promoters of the " active " 
anti-Jewish policies, who had no time for contemplation and 
were driven by the pressure of their reactionary energy to go 
ahead at all cost. In the course of five years the Pahlen Com- 
mission succeeded in investigating the Jewish question in all 
its aspects. It studied and itself prepared a large mass of 
historic, juridic, as well as economic and statistical material. 
It probed the labors of Ignatyev*s gubernatorial commissions, 
quickly ascertaining their biased tendency, and examined the 
entire history of the preceding legislation concerning the 
Jews. It finally came to the conclusion that the whole 
century-long system of restrictive legislation had failed of 
its purpose, and must give way to a system of emancipatory 
measures, to be carried out gradually and with extreme cau- 
tion. The majority of the members of the Commission con- 
curred in this opinion, including Count Pahlen, its chairman. 
In the following we present a few brief extracts from the con- 
clusions formulated by this conservative and bureaucratic 
commission in its comprehensive " General Memoir " which 
was written in the beginning of 1888: 

Can the attitude of the State towards a population of five mil' 
lions, forming one-twentieth of its subjects — though belonging to a 
race different from that of the majority — whom that State itself 


had incorporated, together with the territories populated by them, 
into the Russian body politic, differ from its attitude towards all 
its other subjects? .... Hence, from the political point of riew, 
the Jew is entitled to equality of citizenship. Without granting 
him equal rights, we cannot, porperly speaking, demand from him 
equal civic obligations .... Repression and disfranchisement, 
discrimination and persecution hare never yet tended to improve 
groups of human beings and make them more devoted to their 
rulers. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Jews, trained in 
the spirit of a century-long repressive legislation, have remained 
in the category of those subjects, who are less accurate in the dis- 
charge of their civic duty, who shirk their obligations towards 
the State, and do not fully join Russian life. No less than six 
hundred and fifty restrictive laws directed against the Jews may 
he enumerated in the Russian Code, and the discriminations and 
disabilities implied in these laws are such that they have naturally 
resulted in making until now the life of an enormous majority of 
the Jews in Russia exceedingly onerous .... 

The prejudice against the Jews is largely nurtured by the dis- 
like which the common people secretly harbor towards them until 
to-day as non-Christians .... The names ** Non-Christian " and 
" Christ-killer " may often be heard from the lips of the Russian 
common man as abusive terms directed against the Jew. The 
attitude of our Church and of the law of the State towards the 
Jewish religion is different For, while they designate the Jewish 
religion as a " pseudo-doctrine," they nevertheless sanction relig- 
ious toleration on as large a scale as possible [?!], and refrain 
from carrying on a compulsory and official missionary propaganda. 

In the course of the last twenty-five years a new accusation 
has been brought forward against the Jews in Russia and those 
outside of Russia. The Jews have been found to form a con- 
siderable percentage among the champions of anarchistic and 
revolutionary doctrines, consisting mostly of half-educated young- 
sters who have drifted away from one shore and have not suc- 
ceeded in reaching the other. This extremely deplorable fact is 
used as evidence for the purpose of showing that Judaism itself 
contains within it a destructive force, and is, therefore, doubly 


dangerous to State and society. The Jewish progressives and 
sooiallBt8 are wont to speak of their mission to reconstruct the 
world and of their innate love of mankind .... These statements 
need hardly he taken seriously, for present-day Jewry, by the very 
essence of its nature, professes strictly conservative principles, 
which to a large extent are egotistic and have for their aim the 
practical welfare of its adherents. The interpretation of the spirit 
of Judaism in a directly opposite sense is but an unsuccessful 
attempt on the part of Jewish anarchists who wish to pro- 
claim themselves as the apostles of a new national mission in- 
vented by them. The fact of their forming a large percentage in 
the camp of those opposed to the Russian civic order may be 
explained by the artificial manner in which vast numbers of 
pupils from among the lowest classes of the Jewish population 
are attracted into the secondary and elementary educational es- 
tablishments. These pupils are without means of a livelihood, and 
they lack, moreover, all religious beliefs; they are embittered not 
only by their personal unfortunate position but also by the pres- 
sure of the restrictive laws which weigh heavily upon their 
fellow-Jews in Russia. 

The defects which should be truly combated by Government 
and society are: a) Jewish exclusiveness and separatism; b) the 
endeavor of the Jews to bring the economic forces of the popula- 
tion, in the midst of which they live, under their influence (i. e., 
exploitation) .... 

Having established the true dimensions and characteristics cf 
the " Jewish evil/' we are naturally expected to answer a question 
of an opposite nature: are the Jews to any extent useful to 
State and society? This question, though very frequently heard, 
is not quite intelligible, for every subject, who fulfils his obli- 
gations, is useful to State and society. It would be strange to 
put a similar question concerning other nationalities of Eastern 
origin in Russia, such as the Greeks, Armenians, and Tartars. 
And yet this question is raised with great frequency in the case 
of the Jews, for the purpose of proving the need of repressive 
measures and framing a stronger indictment against the Jewish 
population. There is no doubt that in certain lines of endeavor 


the Jews are extremely useful. This was already realized by 
Catherine, who admitted them to the South-Russian coast in 
order to introduce commercial activities and bring life into the 
country* • • • • The peculiar nature of their commerce and credit 
is useful to the State, because they connect the remotest regions 
by commercial ties and are satisfied with considerably smaller 
profits than are the Christian merchants .... 

We must not, first of all, engage in too comprehensive plans of 
reform and imagine that the Jewish question can be considered 
in all its aspects and solved at one stroke .... Gradation and 
cautiousness must above all become the guiding principles of the 
future activity of the legislator. 

The repressive policy, taken by itself, has been and will always 
be the first and main source of the donnishness of the Jews and 
their aloofness from Russian life .... The prohibitive laws have 
not improved the Jews. On the contrary, they have developed 
in them the spirit of opposition, and have prompted them to 
devise all the time most dexterous means of evading the law, 
thereby corrupting the lower executives of the State power. These 
laws affect the daily doings of every member of the Jewish popu- 
lation, and they extend to such spheres of life and activity in which 
State control is almost impossible. They touch the domain 
of private contract law (the prohibition of land leases) , the domain 
of physical liberty and the need of human locomotion (the pro- 
hibition to transgress the Pale of Settlement, or to live in villages 
within fifty versts of the border) , the domain of daily pursuits and 
earnings (the prohibition of several professions) , and many others. 

No law will ever be able to check effectively the legal violations 
in these hourly acts and common relations of life. It is impossible 
to attach a policeman or a public prosecutor or a justice of the 
peace to every Jew. And yet it is perfectly natural that, being 
restricted in the most elementary rights of a subject — to take 
as one instance only the right of free movement— every Jew 
should daily attempt to violate and evade such burdensome regu- 
lations. This is perfectly natural and intelligible .... 

About ninety per cent of the whole Jewish population form a 
mass of people that are entirely unprovided for, and come near 


being a proletariat — a mass that lives from hand to mouth, amidst 
poverty, and most oppressive sanitary and general conditions. 
This very proletariat is occasionally the target of tumultuous 
popular uprisings. The Jewish mass lives in fear of pogroms and 
in fear of violence. It looks with envy upon the Jews of the 
adjacent governments of the Kingdom of Poland, who are almost 
entirely emancipated, though living under the jurisdiction of the 
same State. 1 The law itself places the Jews in the category of 
" alien races," on the same level with the Samoyeds and pagans.' 
In a word the abnormal condition of the present position of the 
Jews in Russia is evidenced by the instability and vagueness of 
their juridic rights. 

Looking at the problem, not at all as Jewish apdogetes or 
sympathizers, but purely from the point of view of civic righteous- 
ness and the highest principles of impartiality and justice, we 
cannot but admit that the Jews have a right to complain about 
their situation .... However unpleasant it might sound to the 
enemies of Judaism, it is nevertheless an ailom which no one can 
deny that the whole five million Jewish population of Russia, un- 
attractive though it may appear to certain groups and individuals, 
is yet an integral part of Russia and that the questions affecting 
this population are at the same time purely Russian questions. 
We are not dealing with foreigners, whose admission to Russian 

I 1 The law of 1862 conferred upon the Jews of "the Kingdom 
of Poland," i. e., of Russian Poland, the right of unrestricted resi- 
dence throughout the Kingdom, including the villages (see p. 181). 
This privilege was practically annulled by the enactment of 
June 11, 1891, which severely restricts the property rights of the 
Polish Jews.] 

['The Russian Code of Laws classifies the Jews as follows 
(Volume IX., Laws of Social Orders, Article 762) : " Among the 
Aliens inhabiting the Russian Empire are the following: 1) 
The Siberian Aliens; 2) The Samoyeds of the Government of 
Archangel; 3) The nomadic Aliens of the Government of Stav- 
ropol; 4) The Kalmycks leading a nomadic life in the Governments 
of Astrakhan and Stavropol; 5) The Kirgiz of the Inner Ord; 
6) The Aliens of the Territories of Akmolinsk, Semipalatinsk, 
Semiryechensk, Ural, and Turgay; 7) the alien populations of the 
Trans-Caspian Territory; 8) The Jews."] 


citizenship might be conditioned by their usefulness or uselees- 
ness to Russia. The Jews of Russia are not foreigners. For more 
than one hundred years they hare formed a part of that same- 
Russian Empire, which has Incorporated scores of other tribes, 
many of which count by the millions .... 

The very history of Russian legislation, notwithstanding the 
fact that this legislation has developed largely under the influence 
of a most severe outlook on Judaism, teaches us that there is only 
one way and one solution — to emancipate and unite the Jews with 
the rest of the population under the protection of the same laws. 
All this is attested not by theories and doctrines but by the living: 
experience of centuries .... Hence the final goal of any legis- 
lation concerning the Jews can be no other than its abrogation, a 
course demanded equally by the needs of the times, the cause of 
enlightenment, and the progress of the popular masses. 

The fitness of the Jews for full civil equality, to be attained by 
degrees and in the course of many long years, will be the final 
goal of the reforms, slid will lead at last to the disentangling of 
that age-long knot In saying this, we do not mean to imply that 
by that time the Jews will have cast off or transformed all those 
obnoxious qualities which are at present responsible for the fight 
In which all are engaged against them. But, as in the case of 
Europe, this fight can only be terminated by according them full 
emancipation and equal citizenship. To place obstacles in the 
way of this solution would be nothing more than a fruitless 
attempt to check the course of development of human society and 
Russian civil life. Unsympathetic as the Jews may be to the 
Russian masses, it is impossible not to agree with this axiomatic 

Turning now to the execution of its task, the High Commission 
has up to the present been able to carry out but a very small part 
of the program indicated. It was tied down by that gradation 
and cautiousness which it considers an indispensable condition for 
every improvement in the status of the Jews .... The principal 
task of the legislation, as far as it affects the Jews, must consist 
in uniting them as closely as possible with the general Christian 
population. It is not advisable to frame a new legislation in the 


form of a special " Statute " or " Regulation," since such a course 
would be fundamentally subversive of the efforts of the Govern- 
ment to remove Jewish exduafveness. The system of repressive 
and discriminating measures must give way to a graduated sys- 
tem of emancipatory and equalizing laws. The greatest possible 
cautiousness and gradation are the principles to be observed in the 
solution of the Jewish question. 

3. The Tkiumph of Ruction 

With all their moderate and cautious phraseology, the 
conclusions of the Pahlen Commission, whose members, as 
hide-bound conservatives, were forced to reckon with the anti- 
Semitic trend of the governing circles, implied an annihi- 
lating criticism of the repressive policy of that very Govern- 
ment by which the Commission had been appointed. From 
the loins of Russian officialdom issued the enemy who opposed 
it in its manner of dealing with the Jewish question. 

It must be added, however, that the opinions voiced by the 
Commission in its memorandum were by no means shared by 
its entire membership. For while the majority of the Com- 
mission were in favor of gradual reforms, the minority advo- 
cated the continuation of the old repressive policy. Owing to 
these internal disagreements, the Commission was slow in sub- 
mitting its conclusions to the Government. One more attempt 
was made to procrastinate the matter. At the end of 1888 
the Commission invited a group of Jewish " experts," being 
desirous, as it were, to listen to the last words of the prisoner 
at the bar. The choice fell upon the same Jewish notables 
of St. Petersburg, who had displayed so little courage at 
the Jewish conference of 1882. 1 The cross-examination of 

1 See p. 304 et seq. In addition to those mentioned, M. Mar- 
golis was invited as an expert 



these Jewish representatives turned on the question of the 
internal Jewish organization, the existence of a secret Kahal, 
the purposes of the " basket tax," x and so on. Needless to say 
the replies were given in an apologetic spirit. The Jewish 
u experts " renounced the idea of a self-governing communal 
Jewish organization, and pleaded merely for a limited com- 
munal autonomy under the strict supervision of the Govern- 
ment. True, a few of the questions referred besides to the 
legal position of the Jews, but this was done more as a matter 
of form. Everybody knew that the opinion of the majority 
of the Commission, favoring " cautious and gradual " reforms, 
did not have the same prospects of success as the views of the 
anti-Semitic minority which advocated the continuance of the 
old-time repressive policy. 

Soon the worst apprehensions proved to be true. Count 
Tolstoi, the reactionary Minister of the Interior, blocked the 
further progress of the plans formulated by the Pahlen Com- 
mission which should have been submitted in due course to 
the Council of State. There were persistent rumors to the 
effect that Alexander III., being decidedly in favor of con- 
tinuing the policy of oppression towards the Jews, had 
" attached himself to the opinion of the minority " of the Pah- 
len Commission. According to another version, the question 
was actually brought up before the Council of State, and there, 
too, the anti-Semites proved to be in the minority, but the 
Tzar threw the weight of his opinion on their side. The pro- 
ject of the Commission, being out of harmony with the current 
Government policies, was disposed of at some secret session of 
leading dignitaries. The labor of five years was buried in the 
official archives. 

[' See above, p. €1, n. L] 


Afl for the Jews themselves, they were at no time deceived 
about the effects that were likely to attend the work of the 
High Commission. They clearly understood that, if the Gov- 
ernment had been genuinely desirous of " revising " the system 
of Jewish disabilities, it would have stopped, for a time at 
least, to manufacture new legislative whips and scorpions. 
The dark polar night of Russian reaction reigned supreme. 
There seemed to be no end to these orgies of the Russian night 
owls, the Pobyedonostzevs and Tolstois, who were anxious to 
resuscitate the savagery of ancient Muscovy, and who kept the 
people in the grip of ignorance, drunkenness, and political bar- 
barism. Every one in Russia kept his peace and held his 
breath. The progressive elements of the Empire were held 
down tightly by the lid of reaction. The press groaned under 
the yoke of a ferocious censorship. The mystic doctrine of 
non-resistance preached by Leo Tolstoi was attuned to the 
mood prevailing among educated Russians, for, in the words 
of the Russian poet, " their hearts, subdued by storms, were 
filled with silence and lassitude/' 

In Jewish life, too, silence reigned supreme. The sharp 
pangs of the first pogrom year were now dulled, and only sup- 
pressed moans echoed the uninterrupted " silent pogrom " of 
oppression. These were years of which the Jewish poet, Simon 
Frog, could sing: 

Round about all Is silent and cheerless, 
Like a lonesome and desert-like plain. 
If but one were courageous and fearless 
And would cry out aloud in his pain! 
Neither storm-wind nor starshine by night 
And the days neither cloudy nor bright: 
O my people, how sad Is thy state, 
How gray and how cheerless thy fate! 


But in this silence the national idea was slowly maturing 
and gaining in depth and in strength. The time had not yet 
arrived for clearly marked tendencies or well-defined systems 
of thought But the temper of the intellectual classes of 
Bussian Jewry was a clear indication that they were at the 
cross-roads. The " titled " mtslligenzia, reared in the Bussian 
schools, who had drifted away from Judaism, was now joined 
by that other intdUgenzia, the product of heder and yeshibah, 
who had acquired European culture through the medium of 
neo-Hebraic literature, and was in closer contact with the 
masses of the Jewish people. 

True, the Jewish periodical press in the Bussian language, 
which had arisen towards the end of the seventies, had lost in 
quantity. The Raavyet had ceased to appear in 1883, and the 
Russki Yevrey in 1884. The only press organ to remain on the 
battlefield was the militant Voskhod, which was the center for 
the publicistic, scientific, and poetic endeavors of the advanced 
intellectuals of that period. But the loss rf the Bussian 
branch of Jewish literature was made up by the growth of 
the Hebrew press. The old Hebrew organs ha-MeKtz and 
harTzefirah took on a new lease of life, and grew from weeklies 
into dailies. Voluminous annuals with rightful claims to scien- 
tific and literary importance, such as the harAsif ("The 
Harvest ") and Keneset Israel (" The Community of Israel ") 
in Warsaw, and other similar publications, began to make 
their appearance in Bussia. New literary forces began to rise 
from the ground, though only to attain their full bloom 
during the following years. Taken as a whole, the ninth 
decade of the nineteenth century may well be designated as a 
period of transition from the older Haskalah movement to the 
more modern national revival. 


4. American and Palestinian Emigration 

A* for the emigration movement, which had begun during 
the storm and stress of the first pogrom year, this passive but 
only effective protest against the new Egyptian oppression pro- 
ceeded at a slow pace. The Jewish emigration from Russia 
to the United States served as a barometer of the persecutions 
endured by the Jews in the land of bondage. During the 
first three years of the eighties the new movement showed 
violent fluctuations. In 1881 there were 8193 emigrants; in 
1882, 17,497; in 1883, 6907. During the following three 
years, from 1884 to 1886, the movement remained practically 
on the same level, counting 15,000 to 17,000 emigrants 
annually. But in the last three years of that decade, it gained 
considerably in volume, mounting in 1887 to 28,944, in 1888 
to 31,256, and in 1889 to 31,889. The exodus from Russia was 
undoubtedly stimulated by the law imposing a fine for evading 
military service and by the introduction of the educational 
percentage norm — two restrictions which threw into bold relief 
the disproportionate relation between rights and duties in 
Russian Jewry. In the Empire of the Tzars the Jews were 
denied the right of residence and the privilege of a school 
education, but forced at the same time to serve in the army. 
In the United States they at once received full civil equality 
and free schooling without any compulsory military service. 

It goes without saying that the emigrants who had no diffi- 
culty in obtaining equality of citizenship were nevertheless 
compelled, during their first years of residence in the New 
World, to engage in a severe struggle for their material exist- 
ence. Among the emigrants who came to America in those 
early years there were many young intellectuals who had given 
up their liberal careers in the land of bondage and were now 



dreaming of becoming plain agriculturists in the free republic. 
They managed to obtain a following among the emigrant 
masses, and founded, in the face of extraordinary difficulties, 
and with the help of charitable organizations, a number of 
colonies and farms in various parts of the United States, in 
Louisiana, North and South Dakota, New Jersey, and else- 
where. After a few years of vain struggling against material 
want and lack of adaptation to local conditions, a large number 
of these colonies were abandoned, and only a few of them have 
survived until to-day. 

In the course of time the idealistic pioneer spirit which had 
animated the Russian intellectuals gave way to a sober realism 
which was more in harmony with the conditions of American 
life. The bulk of the emigrant masses settled in the cities, 
primarily in New York. They worked in factories or at the 
trades, the most important of which was the needle trade; 
they engaged in business, in peddling, and in farming, and, 
lastly, in the liberal professions. Many an immigrant passed 
successively through all these economic stages before obtaining 
a secure economic position. 

The result of all these wanderings and vicissitudes was a 
well-established community in the United States of some 
200,000 Jews, who formed the nucleus for the rapidly growing 
new Jewish center in America. One of the active participants 
and leaders in this movement, who had in his own life experi- 
enced all the hardships connected with it, concludes his 
account of the emigration to the United States at the end of 
the eighties with the following words: 

No one who has seen the poor, down-trodden, faint-hearted inhab- 
itant of the infamous Pale, with the Damocles sword of brutal mob 
rule dangling constantly over his head, shaking like an autumn 


leaf at the sight of an inspector or even a plain policeman; who 
has seen this little Jew transformed, under the influence of the 
struggle for existence and an independent life, into a free Ameri- 
can Jew who holds his head proudly, whom no one would dare to 
offend, and who has become a citizen in the full sense of the 
word — no one who has seen this wonderful transformation can 
doubt for a moment the enormous significance of the emigration 
movement for the 200,000 Jews that have found shelter in 

Idealistic influences rather than realistic factors were at 
work in the Palestinian colonization movement, which pro- 
ceeded on a parallel line with the American emigration, as a 
small stream sometimes accompanies a large river. The ideas 
preached by the first " Lovers of Zion " were but slowly assum- 
ing concrete shape. The pioneer colonists in the ancient 
fatherland met with enormous obstacles in their path: the 
opposition of the Turkish Government which hindered in every 
possible way the purchase of land and acquisition of property; 
the neglected condition of the soil, the uncivilized state of the 
neighboring Arabs, the lack of financial means and of agri- 
cultural experience. Despite all these drawbacks, the efforts 
of a few men led to the establishment in the very first year 
of the movement, in 1882, of the colony Bishon le-Zion, near 
Jaffa. Subsequently a few more colonies were founded, such 
as Ekron and Ohederah in Judea, Yesod Hama'alah, Bosh- 
Pinah, Zikhron Jacob in Galilee — the last two founded by Bou- 
manian Jews. Called into life by enthusiasts with inadequate 
material resources, these colonies would have scarcely been able 
to survive, had not their plight aroused the interest of Baron 
Edmond de Bothschild in Paris. Beginning with 1884, the 
baron, pursuing purely philanthropic aims, gave his support 
to the colonies, spending enormous sums on cultivating in 


tfaem the higher forms of agriculture, particularly wine-grow- 
ing. Gradually, the baron became the actual owner of a 
majority of the colonies which were administered by his 
appointees, and most of the colonists were reduced to the level 
of laborers or tenants who were entirely in the hands of the 
baron's administration. This state of affairs was unques- 
tionably humiliating and almost too hard to bear for men who 
had dreamed of a free life in the Holy Land. Yet there can be 
no doubt that under the conditions prevailing at the time the 
continued existence of the colonies was only made possible 
through the liberal assistance which came from the outside. 
The progress of the Palestinian colonization, slow though 
it was, provided a concrete basis for the doctrines preached 
by the " Lovers of Zion " in Eussia. The propaganda of these 
Eobebe Zion — the Hebrew equivalent for " Lovers of Zion " — 
who acknowledged as their leaders the first exponents of the 
territorial restoration of Jewry, Pinsker and Iilienblum, led 
to the organization of a number of societies in various cities. 
Towards the end of 1884 the delegates of these societies met at 
a conference in the Prussian border-town Katfcowitz, such a 
conference being impossible in Russia in view of the danger 
of police interference. On that occasion a fund was established 
under the name of Mazheret Moshe, " A Memorial to Moses," 
in honor of the English philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore, 
whose hundredth birthday was celebrated in that year. The 
fund, which formed the main channel for all donations in 
favor of the Palestinian colonies, was administered by the two 
Eobebe Zion centers in Odessa and Warsaw. The movement 
which had been called into life by representatives of the tittM- 
Ugenzia succeeded in winning over several champions of 
rabbinical orthodoxy, among them Samuel Mohilever, the well- 


known rabbi of Bialystok; their affiliation with the new party 
was largely instrumental in weakening the opposition of the 
orthodox masses which were inclined to look upon this political 
movement as a rival of the traditional Messianic idea of 
Judaism. The lack of governmental sanction hampered the 
Hobebe Zion societies in Russia in their activities, and the 
funds at their disposal were barely sufficient for the upkeep 
of one or two colonies in Palestine. Realizing this, the con- 
ference of the " Lovers of Zion " which met at Druskeniki * in 
1887 decided to apply to the Russian Government for the 
legalization of the Hobebe Zion organization, a consummation 
which was realized a few years later, in 1890. 

Thus did, during the first decade of the war waged by the 
Tzars against their Jewish subjects, the tide of Russian-Jewish 
emigration slowly roll towards various shores, until a fresh 
storm in the beginning of the new decade whipped its waves 
to unprecedented heights. Whereas in the course of the 
eighties the Russian Government wished to give the impres- 
sion as if it merely "tolerated" the departure of the Jews 
from Russia — although in reality it was the ultimate aim of 
its policies — in the beginning of the nineties it suddenly cast 
off its mask and gave its public sanction to a Jewish exodus 
from the Russian Empire. As if to strengthen the effect of 
this sanction, the Jews were to taste even more fully the whip 
of persecution and expulsion than they had done during the 
preceding decade. 

[ X A watering-place In the government of Grodno.] 


1. Intensified Enaction 

The poisonous Judaeophobia bacilli seemed to thrive more 
than ever in the highest Government circles of St. Petersburg. 
However, not only the hatred against the Jews but also the fury 
of general political reaction became more rabid than ever after 
the " miraculous escape " of the imperial family in the railroad 
accident near Borki on October 17, 1888/ Amidst the ecclesi- 
astic and mystic haze with which Pobyedonostzev and his asso- 
ciates managed to veil this episode the conviction became deeply 
ingrained in the mind of the Tzar that it was the finger of 
God which pointed to him the way in which Russia might be 
saved from "Western" reforms and brought back into the 
fold of traditional Russian orthodoxy. This conviction of 
Alexander III. led to the counter-reforms which marked the 
concluding years of his reign, having for their purpose the 
strengthening of the police and Church regime in Russia, such 

[* Borki la a village in the government of Kherson. Of the 
fifteen ears of the imperial train only five remained intact Fifty- 
eight persons were injured, twenty-one fatally. The members of J} 
the imperial family were Baved, although their car had been com- - 
pletely wrecked. 

The following quotation from Harold Frederic, The New Ewodus, 
p. 168 et seq., is of interest in this connection: " It was reported 
about that the Tzar regarded the escape alive of himself and family 
from the terrible railway accident at Borki as the direct and mirac- 
ulous intervention of Providence. The facts were that the imperial 
train was being driven at the rate of ninety versts an hour over a 
road calculated to withstand at the utmost a speed of thirty-five 
versts; that the engineer humbly warned the Tzar of the danger, 
and was gruffly ordered to go still faster if possible, and that the 
miracle would have been the avoidance of calamity."] 


as the curtailment of rural and urban self-government, the 
increase of the power of the nobility and clergy, the institution 
of Zemstvo chiefs/ and the multiplication of Greek-Orthodox 
parochial schools at the expense of secular schools. The same 
influences also stimulated the luxurious growth of Judaeo- 
phobia which from now on assumed in the highest Govern- 
ment circles a most malignant character. A manifestation of 
this frame of mind may be found in the words of the Tzar which 
he penned on the margin of a report submitted to him in 1890 
by a high official, describing the sufferings of the Jews and 
pleading for the necessity of stopping the policy of oppression : 
"But we must not forget that it was the Jews who crucified 
our Lord and spilled his priceless blood/* Representatives of 
the court clergy publicly preached that a Christian ought not 
to cultivate friendly relations with a Jew, since it was the com- 
mand of the gospel " to hate the murderers of the Savior." 
The Ministry of the Interior, under the direction of two 
fanatic reactionaries, Durnovo and Plehve/ set on foot all the 
inquisitorial contrivances of the Police Department, of which 
both these officials had formerly been the chiefs. 

The press was either tamed or used as a tool of the govern- 
mental policies. The most widely read press organs of the 
capital, with the exception of the moderately liberal Novosti 
(" The News ") which managed to survive the shipwreck of 
the liberal press, became either openly or secretly the official 
mouthpieces of the Government. The venal Novoye Vremya, 

[* On the Zemstvos compare p. 173, n. 1. The reactionary law of 
June 12, 1890 (see later, p. 358 et seq.) puts In place of the execu- 
tives formerly elected by the people the " Zemstvo chiefs/' officials 
appointed from among the landed proprietors.] 

* Durnovo became Minister of the Interior in 1889, after the 
demise of Tolstoi; Plehve was assistant-minister. 


which the Russian satirist Shchedrin had branded as "the 
sewer,* 5 embarked, towards the end of the eighties, on the 
noble enterprise of hunting down the Jews with a zeal which 
was clear evidence of a higher demand for Jndaeophobia in the 
official world. There was no accusation, however hideous, 
which Suvorin's paper, steered simultaneously by the Holy 
Synod and by the Police Department, failed to hurl in the face 
of the Jews. As an organ generally reflecting the views of the 
Government, the Novoye Vremya served at that time as a 
source of political information for all dignitaries and officials. 
The ministers, governors and the vast army of subordinate 
officials, who wished to ascertain the political course at a 
given moment, consulted this " well-informed " daily, which, 
as far as the Jewish question was concerned, pursued but one 
aim: to make the life of the Jews in Bussia unbearable. Apart 
from the Novoye Vremya, which was read by the Tzar himself, 
the work of Jew-baiting was also carried on with considerable 
zeal by the Russian weekly Orazhdanin ("The Citizen*), 
whose editor, Count Meshcherski, enjoyed not only the per- 
sonal favor of Alexander III. but also a substantial Govern- 
ment subsidy. -These metropolitan organs of publicity gave 
the tone to the whole official and semi-official press in the 
provinces, and the public opinion of Russia was systematically 
poisoned by the venom of Judaeophobia. 

When the Pahlen Commission was discharged, the Tzar 
having " attached himself to the opinion of the minority/* * 
the Government had no difficulty in finding a few kind-hearted 
officials who were eager to carry the project framed by this 
reactionary minority into effect. The project itself, which 
had been elaborated in the Ministry of the Interior under 

* See p. 370. 


the direction of Plehve, the sinister Chief of Police, was 
guarded with great secrecy, as if it concerned a plan of mili- 
tary operations against a belligerent Power. But the secret 
leaked out very soon. The Minister had sent out copies of 
the project to the governors-general, soliciting their opinions, 
and ere long copes of the project were circulating in London, 
Paris, and Vienna. In the spring of 1890, Russia and West- 
ern Europe were filled with alarming rumors concerning an 
enactment of some "forty clauses," which was designed to 
curtail the commercial activities of the Jews, to increase the 
rigor of the u Temporary Rules n within the Pale, and restrict 
the privileges conferred upon several categories of Jews out- 
side of it, to establish medieval Jewish ghettos in St. Peters- 
burg, Moscow, and Kiev, and similar measures. The foreign 
press made a terrible outcry against these contemplated new 
acts of barbarism. 

The voice of protest was particularly strong in England. 
The London Times assailed in violent terms the reactionary 
policies of Russia, and a special organ, called Darkest Russia, 
was published for this purpose by Russian political refugees 
in England. The Russian Government denied these rumors 
through its diplomatic channels, though at the very same time 
the well-informed Novoye Vr&mya and Orazhdanin were not 
barred from printing news items concerning the projected 
disabilities or from recommending ferocious measures against 
the Jews for the purpose " of removing them from all branches 
of labor." 

This comedy was well understood abroad. At the end of 
July and in the beginning of August interpellations were in- 
troduced in both Houses of the English Parliament, as to 
whether Her Majesty's Government found it possible to make 


diplomatic representations in defence of the persecuted Russian 
Jews for whom England would hare to provide, were they to 
arrive there in large masses. Premier Salisbury, in the House 
of Lords, and Fergusson, the Under-Secretary of State for For- 
eign Affairs, in the House of Commons, replied that " these 
proceedings, which, if rightly reported to us, are deeply to be 
regretted, concern the internal affairs of the Russian Empire, 
and do not admit of any interference on the part of Her 
Majesty's Government." 1 When shortly afterwards prepara* 
tions were set on foot for calling a protest meeting in London, 
the Russian Government hastened to announce through the 
British ambassador in St. Petersburg that no new measures 
against the Jews were in contemplation, and the meeting was 
called off. Rumor had it that the Lord Mayor of London, 
Henry Isaacs, who was a Jew, did not approve of this meeting, 
over which, according to the English custom, he would have 
to preside. The action of the Lord Mayor may have been 
"tactful," but is was certainly not free from an admixture 
of timidity. 

2. Continued Harassing 

While anxiously endeavoring to appease public opinion 
abroad, the Russian Government at home did all it could to 
keep the Jews in an agitated state of mind. The legal drafts 
and the circulars which had been sent out secretly by the cen- 
tral Government in St. Petersburg elicited the liveliest sym- 
pathy on the part of the provincial administrators. Not 
satisfied with signifying to the Ministry their approval of 
the contemplated disabilities, many officials of high rank began 
to display openly their bitter hatred of the Jews. 

[* See The Jetcith Chronicle of August 8, 1890, p. 18*.] 


At one and the same time, during the months of June, July, 
and August of 1890, the heads of various local provincial 
administrations published circulars calling the attention of 
the police to the " audacious conduct " of the Jews who, on 
meeting Bussian officials, failed to take off their hats by way 
of greeting. The governor of Moghilev instructed the police 
of his province to impress the local Jewish population with 
the necessity of " polite manners," in the sense of a more 
reverent attitude towards the representatives of Bussian au- 
thority. In compliance with this order, the district chiefs 
of police compelled the rabbis to inculcate their flock in the 
synagogues with reverence for Bussian officialdom. In Msti- 
slavl, a town in the government of Moghilev, the president 
of the nobility * assembled the leading members of the Jewish 
community, and cautioned them that those Jews who would 
fail to comply with the governor's circular would be subjected 
to a public whipping by the police. The governor of Odessa, 
the well-known despot Zelenoy, issued a police ordinance for 
the purpose of " curbing the impudence displayed by the JewB 
in places of public gathering and particularly in the sub- 
urban trolley cars 9 ' where they do not give up their seats 
and altogether show disrespect towards " persons of advanced 
age or those wearing a uniform, testifying to their high posi- 
tion." Even more brutal was the conduct of the governor- 
general of Vilna, Kakhanov, who, despite his high rank, 
allowed himself, in replying to the speech of welcome of a 
Jewish deputation, to animadvert not only on Jewish " clan- 
nishness " but also on the " licentiousness " of the Jewish popu- 
lation, manifesting itself in congregating on the streets, and 
similar grave crimes. 

[* See a&ove, p. 303.] 


The simultaneous occurrence of this sort of official actions in 
widely separated places point to a common source, probably 
to some secret instructions from St Petersburg. It would 
seem, however, that the provincial henchmen of the central 
Government had overreached themselves in their eagerness to 
carry out the behest of " curbing the Jews," The pettiness 
of their demands, which, moreover, were illegal, such as the 
order to take off the hats before the officials* or to give 
up the seats in the trolley cars, merely served to ridicule the 
representatives of Bussian officialdom, giving frequent rise to 
tragi-comic conflicts in public and to utterances of indigna- 
tion in the press. The public pronouncements of these genteel 
chinovniks who were anxious to train the Jewish masses in 
the fear of Bussian bureaucracy and inculcate in them polite 
manners aroused the attention both of the Bussian and the 
foreign press. It was universally felt that these farcical per- 
formances of uncouth administrators were only the mani- 
festations of a bottomless hatred, of a morbid desire to insult 
and to humble the Jews, and that these administrators were 
capable at any moment to proceed from moralizing to more 
tangible forms of ill-treatment. This danger intensified the 
state of alarm. 

.While making preparations for storming the citadel of 
Bussian Jewry, the Government took good care to keep it 
meanwhile in its normal state of siege. The resourcefulness 
of the administration brought the technique of repression to 
perfection. The officials were no longer content with inventing 
cunning devices for expelling old Jewish residents from the 
villages. 1 They now made endeavors to reduce even the area 

1 There are cases on record when Jewish soldiers who returned 
home after the completion of their term of service were refused 
admission to their villages, on the ground that they were " new 


of the uHxm Pale in which the Jews were huddled together, 
panting for breath. In 1890, the provincial authorities, acting 
evidently on a signal from above, began to change numerous 
little townlets into villages, which, as rural settlements, would 
be closed to the Jews. As a result, all the Jews who had settled 
in these localities after the issuance of the " Temporary Bules " 
of May 3, 1882, were now expelled, and even the older resi- 
dents who were exempt from the operation of the May laws 
shared the same fate unless they were able (which in very 
many cases they were not) to produce documentary evidence 
that they had lived there prior to 1882. Simultaneously a 
new attempt was made to drive the Jews from the forbidden 
fifty verst zone along the Western border of the Empire, parti- 
cularly in Bessarabia. These expulsions had the effect of filling 
the already over-crowded cities of the Pale with many more 
thousands of ruined people. 

At the same time the life of the outlawed Jews was made 
unbearable in the cities outside the Pale, particularly in the 
large centers, such as Kiev, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. The 
governor-general of Kiev prohibited the wives of Jewish arti- 
sans who were legally entitled to residence in that city to 
sell eatables in the market, on the technical ground that 
under the law artisans could only trade in the articles of 
their own manufacture, thus robbing the poor Jewish work- 
man of the miserable pittance which his wife was anxious to 
contribute by her honest labor towards the maintenance of 
the family. 

A great political blow for the Jews was the clause in the 
new reactionary " Statute Concerning the Zemstvo Organiza- 



tions " issued on June 12, 1890/ under which the Jews, though 
paying the local taxes, were completely barred from partici- 
pating in the election of deputies to the organization of local 
self-government. This clause was inserted in the legal draft 
by the three shining lights of the political inquisition active 
at that time, Pobyedonostzev, Durnovo, and Plehve. They 
justified this restriction on the following grounds: the object 
of the new law is to transform local self-government into a 
state administration and to strengthen in the former the 
influence of the central Government at the expense of the 
local Government; hence the Jews, " being altogether an ele- 
ment hostile to Government," are not fit to participate in the 
Zemstvo administration. The Council of State agreed with 
this bureaucratic motivation, and the humiliating clause passed 
into law. 

While a large part of the Bussian public and of the Russian 
press had succumbed to the prevailing tendencies under the 
high pressure of the anti-Semitic atmosphere, the progressive 
elements of the Bussian intelligenzia were gradually aroused 
to a feeling of protest. Vladimir Solovyov, "the Christian 
philosopher," a friend of the Jewish people, who had famil- 
iarized himself thoroughly with its history and literature, con- 
ceived the idea of issuing a public protest against the anti- 
Semitic movement in the " Russian Press," ' to be signed by 
the most prominent Bussian writers and other well-known 
men. During the months of May and June, 1890, he suc- 

[' The new law invalidated to a large extent the liberties granted 
to the Zemstvos by Alexander II. in 1864 (compare p. 173) by 
placing them under state control.] 

' The latter expression was a euphemism designating the Russian 
Government and its reactionary henchmen in the press. The 
severity of the police made this evasion necessary. 


oeeded under great difficulties to collect for his protest 
sixty-six signatures in Moscow and over fifty signatures in 
St. Petersburg, including those of Leo Tolstoi, Vladimir 
Korolenko, and other literary celebrities. Despite its mild tone, 
the protest which had been framed by Solovyov 1 was barred 
from publication by the Russian censor. Professor Ilovaiski, of 
Moscow, a historian of doubtful reputation, but a hide-bound 
Jew-baiter, had informed the authorities of St. Petersburg of 
the attempt to collect signatures in Moscow for a " pro-Jewish 
petition." As a result, all newspapers received orders from 
the Russian Press Department to refuse their columns to any 
collective pronouncements touching the Jewish question. 

*The following extracts from this meek appeal deserve to be 
quoted: " The movement against the Jews which is propagated by 
the Russian press represents an unprecedented violation of the 
most fundamental demands of righteousness and humanity. We 
consider it our duty to recall these elementary demands to the 
mind of the Russian public .... In all nationalities there are 
bad and Ul-minded persons but there is not, and cannot be, any 
bad and ill-minded nationality, for this would abrogate the moral 
responsibility of the individual .... It is unjust to make the 
Jews responsible for those phenomena in their lives which are 
the result of thousands of years of persecution in Europe and of 
the abnormal conditions in which this people has been placed .... 
The fact of belonging to a Semitic tribe and professing the 
Mosaic creed is nothing prejudicial and cannot of itself serve 
as a basis for an exceptional civil position of the Jews, as compared 
with the Russian subjects of other nationalities and denomina- 
tions .... The recognition and application of these simple truths 
Is important and is first of all necessary for ourselves. The 
increased endeavor to kindle national and religious hatred, which 
Is so contradictory to the spirit of Christianity and suppresses 
the feelings of justice and humaneness, is bound to demoralize 
society at its very root and bring about a state of moral anarchy, 
particularly so in view of the decline of humanitarian ideas and 
the weakness of the principle of justice already noticeable in our 
life. For this reason, acting from the mere instinct of national 
self-preservation, we must emphatically condemn the anti-Semitic 
movement not only as immoral in Itself but also as extremely 
dangerous for the future of Russia." 



Solovyov addressed an impassioned appeal to Alexander HL, 
but reoeived through one of the Ministers the impressive advice 
to refrain from raising a cry on behalf of the JewB> under pain 
of administrative penalties. In these circumstances, Hie plan 
of a public protest had to be abandoned. Instead, the follow- 
ing device was resorted to as a makeshift. Solovyov*s teacher 
of Jewish literature, P. Goetz, was publishing an apology of 
Judaism under the title " A Word from the Prisoner at the 
Bar." Solovyov wrote a preface to this little vohuoe, and 
turned over to its author for publication the letters of Tolstoi 
and Korolenko in the defence of the Jews. No sooner had the 
book left the press than it was confiscated by the censor, and, 
in spite of all petitions, the entire edition of this innocent 
apology was thrown into the flames. In this way the Russian 
Government succeeded in shutting the months of the few 
defenders of Judaism, while according unrestricted liberty of 
speech to itB ferocious assailants. 

8. Thb Guildhall Mewting nr London- 

The cry of indignation against Jewish oppression, which 
had been smothered in Russia, could not be stifled abroad. 
The Jews of England took the initiative in this matter. 
On November 5, 1890, the London Times published a letter 
from N. & Joseph, honorary secretary to the Busso-Jewish 
Committee in London, passionately appealing to the public 
men of England to intercede on behalf of his persecuted core- 
ligionists. The writer of the letter called attention to the fact 
that, while the Russian Government was officially denying that 
it was contemplating new restrictions against the Jews, it was 
at the same lame applying the former restrictions on so com- 
prehensive a scale and with such extraordinary cruelty that 


the Jews in the Pale of Settlement were like a doomed prisoner 
in a cell with its opposite walls gradually approaching, con- 
tracting by slow degrees his breathing space, till they at last 
immure him in a living tomb. 

The writer concludes his appeal in these terms: 

It may seem a sorry jest but the Russian law, in very truth, now 
declares: The Jew may live here only and shall not live there; 
if he fives here he must remain heito; but wherever he lives he shall 
not live— he shall not have the means of living. This is the opera- 
tion of the law as it Btands, without any new edict This is the 
sentence of death that silently, insidiously, and in the veiled 
language of obscurely worded laws has been pronounced against 
hundreds of thousands of human beings .... Shall civilized 
Europe, shall the Christianity of England behold this slow torture 
and bloodless massacre, and be silent? 

The appeal of the Busso-Jewish Committee and the new 
gloomy tidings from Russia published by the Times decided 
a number of prominent Englishmen to call the protest meeting 
which had been postponed half a year previously. Eighty- 
three foremost representatives of English society addressed 
a letter to the Lord Mayor of London calling upon him to 
convene such a meeting. The office of Lord Mayor at that 
time was occupied by Joseph Savory, a Christian, who did 
not share the susceptibilities which had troubled his Jewish 
predecessor. Immediately on assuming office, Savory gave his 
consent to the holding of the meeting. 

On December 10, 1890, the meeting was held in the magnifi- 
cent Guildhall, belonging to the City of London, and was 
attended by more than 2000 people. The Lord Mayor who 
presided over the gathering endeavored in his introductory 
remarks to soften the bitterness of the protest for the benefit 
of official Eussia. 


As I hear— he said — the Emperor of Russia is a good husband 
and a tender father, and I cannot but think that such a man must 
necessarily be kindly disposed to all his subjects. On his Majesty 
the Emperor of Russia the hopes of the Russian Jews are at the 
present moment fixed. He can by one stroke of his pen annul 
those laws which now press so grievously upon them and he can 
thus give a happy life to those Jewish subjects of his who now can 
hardly be said to live at alL 

In conclusion, the Lord Sfayor expressed the wish that 
Alexander III. may become the " emancipator " of the Russian 
Jews, just as his father Alexander II. had been the emanci- 
pator of the Russian serfs. 

Cardinal Manning, the warm-hearted champion of Jewish 
emancipation, who was prevented by illness from being present, 
sent a long letter which was read to the meeting. The argu- 
ment against interfering with the inner politics of a foreign 
country, the cardinal wrote,' had found its first expression in 
Cain's question, "Am I my brother's keeper ?" There is a 
united Jewish race scattered all over the world, and the pain 
inflicted upon it in Russia is felt by the Jewish race in England. 
It is wrong to keep silent when we see six million men 
reduced to the level of criminals, particularly when they 
belong to a race " with a sacred history of nearly four thou- 
sand years," 

The speakers who followed the Lord Mayor pictured in vivid 
colors the political and civil bondage of Russian Jewry. 

The first speaker, the Duke of Westminster, after recounting 
the sufferings of Russian Jewry, moved the adoption of the 
protest resolution, notwithstanding the fact that the " great 
protest of 1882 " (at the Mansion House meeting) 1 had brought 

1 See p. 288 et »eq. 


no results. " We read in the history of the Jewish race that 
'God hardened the heart of Pharaoh so that he would not 
let the people of Israel go '; but deliverance came at last by 
the hand of Moses." 

After brilliant speeches by the Bishop of Bipon, the Earl 
of Heath, and others, the following resolution was adopted : 

That in the opinion of this meeting the renewed sufferings of 
the Jews in Russia from the operation of severe and exceptional 
edicts and disabilities are deeply to be deplored, and that in this 
last decade of the nineteenth century religious liberty is a prin- 
ciple which should be recognized by every Christian community 
as among the natural human rights. 

At the same time a second resolution was adopted to the 
following effect: 

That a suitable memorial be addressed to his Imperial Majesty 
the Emperor of all the Russias, respectfully praying his Majesty 
to repeal all the exceptional and restrictive laws and disabilities 
which afflict his Jewish subjects; and begging his Majesty to 
confer upon them equal rights with those enjoyed by the rest of 
his Majesty's subjects; and that the said memorial be signed by 
the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor, in the name of the citizens of 
London, and be transmitted by his Lordship to his Majesty. 

A few extracts from the memorandum may be quoted by 
way of illustrating the character of this remarkable appeal 
to the Bussian emperor: 

We, the citizens of London, respectfully approach your Majesty 
and humbly beg your gracious leave to plead the cause of the 

Cries of distress have reached us from thousands of suffering 
Israelites in your vast empire; and we Englishmen, with pity in 
our souls for all who suffer, turn to your Majesty to implore for 
them your Sovereign aid and clemency. 


Fire millions of jour Majesty's subjects groan beneath the yoke 
of exceptional and restrictive laws. Remnants of a race, whence 
all religion sprang— ours and yours, and every creed on earth that 
owns one God — men who cling with all devotion to their ancient 
faith and forms of worship, these Hebrews are in your empire 
subject to such laws that under them they cannot live and 
thrive .... 

Pent up in narrow bounds within your Majesty's wide empire, 
and even within those bounds forced to reside chiefly in towns 
that reek and overflow with every form of poverty and wretched- 
ness; forbidden all free movement; hedged In every enterprise 
by restrictive laws; forbidden tenure of land, or all concern in 
land, their meanB of livelihood have become so cramped as to 
render life for them well-nigh impossible. 

Nor are they cramped alone in space and action. The higher 
education is denied them, except in limits far below the due pro- 
portion of their needs and aspirations. They may not freely 
exercise professions, like other subjects of your Majesty, nor may 
they gain promotion in the Army, however great their merit and 
their valour .... 

Sire! we who have learnt to tolerate all creeds, deeming it a 
principle of true religion to permit religious liberty, we beseech 
your Majesty to repeal those laws that afflict these Israelites. 
Give them the blessing of equality! In every land where Jews 
have equal rights, the nation prospers. We pray you, then, annul 
those special laws and disabilities that crush and cow your Hebrew 

Sire! your Royal Sister, our Empress Queen (whom God pre- 
serve!) bases her throne upon her people's love, making their 
happiness her own. So may your Majesty gain from your subjects' 
love all strength and happiness, making your mighty empire 
mightier still, rendering your Throne firm and impregnable, reap- 
ing new blessings for your House and Home. 

The memorial was signed by Savory, who was Lord Mayor 
at that time, and forwarded by him to St Petersburg. It 
was accompanied by a letter, dated December 24, from the 


Lord Mayor to Lieutenant-General de Bichter, aide-de-camp 
of the Tzar for the reception of petitions, with the request to 
transmit the document to the emperor. 

It is almost unnecessary to add that this touching appeal 
for justice by the citizens of London failed to receive a direct 
reply. There were rumors that the London petition threw 
the Tzar into a fury, and the future court annalist of Russia 
will probably tell of the scene that took place in the imperial 
palace when this document was read. An indirect reply came 
through the cringing official press. The mouthpiece of the 
Russian Government abroad, the newspaper Le Nord in 
Brussels, which was especially engaged in the task of white- 
washing the black politics of its employers, published an 
article under the heading t€ A Last Word concerning Semi- 
tism," in which the rancor of the highest Government circles 
in Russia found undisguised expression: 

The Semites— quoth the semi-official organ with an impudent 
disregard of truth — have never yet had such an easy life in Russia 
as they have at the present time, and yet they have never com- 
plained sp bitterly. There is a reason for it It is a peculiarity of 
Semitism: a Semite is never satisfied with anything; the more you 
give him the more he wishes to have. 

In the evident desire to fool its readers, Le Nord declared 
that the protesters at the London meeting might have saved 
themselves the trouble of demanding " religious liberty " for 
the Jews — which in the London petition was understood, of 
course, to imply civil liberty for the professors of Judaism — 
since nobody in Russia restricted the Jews in their worship. 
Nor did the civil disabilities weigh heavily upon the Jews. On 
the contrary, they felt so happy in Sussia that even the Jewish 
emigrants in America dreamt of returning to their homeland. 


4. The Pbotest op America 

The same attitude of double-dealing was adopted by the 
smooth-tongued Bussian diplomats toward the Government of 
the United States. Aroused oyer the inhuman treatment of 
the Jews in Russia, and alarmed by the effects of a sudden 
Russian-Jewish immigration to America, which was bound to 
follow as a result of this treatment, the House of Represen- 
tatives adopted a resolution on August 20, 1890, requesting 
the President — 

To communicate to the House of Representatives, if not incom- 
patible with the public interests, any information in his posses- 
sion concerning the enforcement of proscriptive edicts against 
the Jews in Russia, recently ordered, as reported in the public 
press; and whether any American citizens have, because of their 
religion, been ordered to be expelled from Russia, or forbidden 
the exercise of the ordinary privileges enjoyed by the inhabitants. 

In response to this resolution, President Harrison laid before 
Congress all the correspondence and papers bearing on the 
Jewish question in Russia. 1 

A little later, on December 19 of the same year, the follow- 
ing resolution of protest was introduced in the House of Repre- 
sentatives and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs: 

Resolved, That the members of the House of Representatives 
of the United States have heard with profound sorrow, and with 
feelings akin to horror, the reports of the persecution of the Jews 
in Russia, reflecting the barbarism of past ages, disgracing 
humanity, and impeding the progress of civilization. 

Resolved, That our sorrow is intensified by the fact that such 
occurrences should happen in a country which has been, and now 

1 The material was printed as Executive Document No. 470, 
dated October 1, 1890. It reproduced all the documents originally 
embodied in Executive Document No. 192 (see above, p. 294, n. 1), 
in addition to the new material. 


is, the firm friend of the United States, and in a nation that 
clothed Itself with glory, not long since, by the emancipation of 
its serfs and by its defense of helpless Christians from the op- 
pression of the Turks. 

Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the 
Secretary of State, with a request that he send it to the American 
Minister at St. Petersburg, and that said Minister be directed 
to present the same to his Imperial Majesty Alexander III., Czar 
of all the Russias. 1 

In the meantime the Department of State was flooded with 

protests against the Russian atrocities. 

Almost every day — Secretary of State, James G. Blaine, writes 
to Charles Emory Smith, United States Minister at St. Peters- 
burg, on February 27, 1891— communications are received on this 
subject; temperate, and couched in language respectful to the 
Government of the Czar; but at the same time indicative and 
strongly expressive of the depth and prevalence of the sentiment 
of disapprobation and regret. 1 

The American Minister was therefore instructed to exert 
his influence with the Russian Government in the direction 
of mitigating the severity of the anti-Jewish measures. He 
was to point out to the Russian authorities that the maltreat- 
ment of the Jews in Russia was not purely an internal affair 

[* Congressional Record, vol. 22, p. 705. — The resolution was 
reported back on February 5, 1891, in the following amended form 
(loc. cit. t p. 2219): 

Resolved, That the members of the House of Representatives of 
the United States have heard with profound sorrow the reports of 
the sufferings of the Jews in Russia; and this sorrow is intensified 
by the fact that these occurrences should happen in a country 
which is, and long has been the friend of the United States, which 
emancipated millions of its people from serfdom, and which 
defended helpless Christians in the Bast from persecution for 
their religion; and we earnestly hope that the humanity and 
enlightened spirit then so strikingly shown by His Imperial 
Majesty will now be manifested in checking and mitigating the 
severe measures directed against men of the Jewish religion.] 

I* Foreign Relations of the United States, 1891, p. 740.] 


of the Eussian Government* inasmuch 88 it affected the inter- 
ests of the United States. Within ten years 200,000 Eussian 
Jews had come over to America, and continued persecutions 
in Bussia were bound to result in a large and sudden immigra- 
tion which was not unattended with danger. While the United 
States did not presume to dictate to Russia, "nevertheless, 
the mutual duties of nations require that each should use his 
power with a due regard for the other and for the results which 
its exercise produces on the rest of the world." * 

The remonstrances of the American people which were voiced 
by their representatives at St. Petersburg were received by 
the Eussian Government in a manner which strikingly 
illustrates the well-known duplicity of its diplomatic methods. 
While endeavoring to justify its policy of oppression by all 
kinds of libellous charges against the Eussian Jews, it gave 
at the same time repeated assurance to the American Minis- 
ter that no new prescriptive laws were contemplated, and the 
latter reported accordingly to his Government.* On February 
10, 1891, the American Minister, writing to Secretary Blaine, 
gives a detailed account of the conversation he had had with the 
Eussian Minister for Foreign Affairs, de Giers. The latter 
went out of his way to discuss with him unreservedly the entire 
Jewish situation in Russia, and, while making all kinds of 
subtle insinuations against the character of the Eussian Jew, 
he expressed himself in a manner which was calculated to con- 
vince the American representative of the conciliatory disposi- 
tion of the Eussian Government.' Less than three weeks later 
followed the cruel expulsion edict against the Jews of Moscow. 

[*I/oc. eft., p. 787.] 

['Compare in particular his dispatch, dated September 25, 
1890, published in Executive Document No. 470, p. 141.] 
I 9 Foreign Relations, 1891, p. 784.] 


While the Russian Government, abashed by the voices of 
protest, made an effort to justify itself in the eyes of Europe 
and America and perverted the truth with its well-known 
diplomatic skill, the Russhaya Zhizn ("Russian life"), a 
St. Petersburg paper, which was far from being pro-Jewish, 
published a number of heart-rending facts illustrating the 
trials of the outlawed Jews at Moscow. It told of a young 
talented Jew who maintained himself and his family by work- 
ing on a Moscow newspaper and, not having the right of resi- 
dence in that city, was wont to save himself from the night 
raids of the police by hiding himself , on a signal of his landlord, 
in the wardrobe. Many Jews who lived honestly by the sweat 
of their brow were cruelly expelled by the police when their 
certificates of residence contained even the slighest technical 
inaccuracy. By way of illustrating the " religious liberty" 
of the Jews in the narrower sense of the word, the paper 
mentioned the fact that after the opening of the new syna- 
gogue in Moscow, which accommodated five hundred worship- 
pers, the police ordered the closing of all the other bouses 
of prayer, to the number of twenty, which had been attended 
by some ten thousand people. 

The governor of St. Petersburg, Gresser, made a regular 
sport of taunting the Jews. One ordinance of his prescribed 
that the signs on the stores and workshops belonging to 
Jews should indicate not only the family names of their 
owners but also their full first names as well as their fathers' 
names, exactly as they were spelled in their passports, " with 
the end in view of averting possible misunderstandings." The 
object of this ordinance was to enable the Christian public 
to boycott the Jewish stores and, in addition, to poke fun at 
the names of the owners, which, as a rule, were mutilated 


in the Russian registers and passports to the point of ridiculous- 
ness by semi-illiterate clerks. 

Greaser's ordinance was issued on November 17, 1890, a 
few days before the protest meeting in London. As the 
Russian Government was at that time assuring Europe that 
the Jews were particularly happy in Russia, the ordinance 
was not published in the newspapers but nevertheless applied 
secretly. The Jewish storekeepers, who realized the malicious 
intent of the new edict, tried to minimize the damage resulting 
from it by having their names painted in small letters so as 
not to catch the eyes of the Russian anti-Semites. Thereupon 
Greeser directed the police officials (in March 1891) to see to 
it that the Jewish names on the store signs should be indi- 
cated " clearly and in a conspicuous place, in accordance with 
the prescribed drawings " and "to report immediately " to 
him any attempt to violate the law. In this manner St. Peters- 
burg reacted upon the cries of indignation which rang at that 
time through Europe and America, 


1. Preparing the Blow 

The year 1891 had arrived. The air was full of evil fore- 
bodings. In the solitude of the Government chancelleries of 
St. Petersburg the anti- Jewish conspirators were assiduously 
at work preparing for a new blow to be dealt to the martyred 
nation. A secret committee attached to the Ministry of the 
Interior, under the chairmanship of Plehve, was engaged in 
framing a monstrous enactment of Jewish counter-reforms, 
which were practically designed to annul the privileges con- 
ferred upon certain categories of Jews by Alexander II. The 
principal object of the proposed enactment was to slam the 
doors to the Russian interior, which had been slightly opened by 
the laws of 1859 and 1865, by withdrawing the privilege of re- 
siding outside the Pale which these laws had conferred upon 
Jewish first guild merchants and artisans, subject to a number 
of onerous conditions. 

The first object of the reactionary conspirators was to get rid 
of those " privileged " Jews who lived in the two Russian capi- 
tals. In St. Petersburg this object was to be attained by the 
edicts of Gresser, referred to previously, which were followed 
by other similarly harassing regulations. In February, 1891, 
the governor of St. Petersburg ordered the police " to examine 
the kind of trade " pursued by the Jewish artisans of St. Peters- 
burg, with the end in view of expelling from the city and 
confiscating the goods of all those who should be caught with 
articles not manufactured by themselves. 1 A large number of 

1 See above, p. 170 et $eq., and p. 347 et seq. 


expulsions followed upon this order. Hie principal blow, 
however, was to fall in Moscow. 

The ancient Muscovite capital was in the throes of great 
changes. The post of governor-general of Moscow, which 
had been occupied by Count Dolgoruki, was entrusted in 
February, 1891, to a brother of the Tzar, Grand Duke Sergius. 
The grand duke, who enjoyed an unenviable reputation in 
the gambling circles of both capitals, was not burdened by 
any consciously formulated political principles. Bui this 
deficiency was made up by his steadfast loyalty to the political 
and religious prejudices of his environment, among which 
the blind hatred of Judaism occupied a prominent place. The 
Bussian public was inclined to attach extraordinary import- 
ance to the appointment of the Tzar's brother. It was gen- 
erally felt that his selection was designed to serve as a prelimi- 
nary step to the transfer of the imperial capital from St. 
Petersburg to Moscow, symbolizing the return "home" — to 
the old-Muscovite political ideals. It is almost superfluous to 
add that the contemplated change made it necessary to purge 
the ancient capital of its Jewish inhabitants. 

The Jewish community of Moscow, numbering some thirty 
thousand souls who lived there legally or eemi-legally, had 
long been a thorn in the flesh of certain influential Bussian 
merchants. The burgomaster of Moscow, Alexeyev, an igno- 
rant merchant, with a veTy shady reputation, was greatly 
wrought up over the far-reaching financial influence of a 
local Jewish capitalist, Lazarus Polakov, the director of a 
rural bank, with whom he had clashed over some commercial 
transaction. Alexeyev was only too grateful for an occasion 
to impress upon the highest Government spheres that it was 
necessary " to clear Moscow of the Jews/' who w$re crowding 


the city, owing to the indulgence of DolgoruM, the former 
governor-general. The reactionaries of Moscow and St. 
Petersburg joined hands in the worthy cause of extirpating 
Judaism, and received the blessing of the head of the Holy 
Synod, Pobyedonostzev. This inquisitor-in-chief appointed 
Istomin, a ferocious anti-Semite, who had been his general 
utility man at the Holy Synod, the bureau-manager of the 
new governor-general, and thus succeeded in establishing his 
influence in Moscow through his acting representative who was 
practically the master of the second capital. 

The secret council of Jew-haters decided to accomplish the 
Jewish evacuation of Moscow prior to the solemn entrance of 
Grand Duke Sergius into the city, either for the purpose of 
clearing the way for the new satrap, or in order to avoid the 
unpleasantness of having his name connected with the first 
cruel act of expulsion. Pending the arrival of Sergius the 
administration of Moscow was entrusted to Coetanda, the chief 
of the Moscow Military District, an adroit Greek, who was to 
begin the military operations against the Jewish population. 
The first blow was timed to take place on the festival of Israel's 
liberation from Egyptian bondage, as if the eternal people 
needed to be reminded of the new bondage and of the new 

8. Thb Hobeobs of Expulsion 

It was on March 29, 1891, the first day of the Jewish 
Passover, when in the synagogues of Moscow which were filled 
with worshippers an alarming whisper ran from mouth to* 
mouth telling of the publication of an imperial ukase ordering 
the expulsion of the Jews from the city. Soon afterwards the 

26 I 


horror-stricken Jews read in the papers the following imperial 

order, dated March 28 : 

Jewish mechanics, distillers, brewers, and, in general, master 
workmen and artisans shall be forbidden to remove from the 
Jewish Pale of Settlement as well as to come over from other 
places of the Empire to the City and Government of Moscow. 

This prohibition of settling in Moscow anew was only one 

half of the edict. The second, more terrible half, was published 

on the following day: 

A recommendation shall be made to the Minister of the Interior, 
after consultation with the Governor-General of Moscow, to see 
to it that measures be taken to the effect that the above-mentioned 
Jews should gradually depart from the City and Government of 
Moscow into the places established for the permanent residence of 
the Jews. 

At first sight it seemed difficult to realize that this harm- 
less surface of the ukase, with its ambiguous formulation, 1 

*The Byzantine perfidy of this formulation lies in the phrase 
" above-mentioned Jews," which gives the impression of referring 
to those that had " removed" to Moscow from other parts of 
the Empire, i. c, settled there anew, whereas the real object of 
the law was to expel all the Jews of the " above-mentioned " cat- 
egories of master workmen and artisans, even though they may 
have lived in the city for many years. This amounted to a repeal, 
illegally enacted outside the Council of State, of the law of 1866, 
conferring the right of universal residence upon Jewish artisans. 
Moreover, the enactment was given retroactive force — a step which 
even the originators of the "Temporary Rules" of May 3 were 
not bold enough to make. In distinction from the May Laws, the 
present decree was not even submitted to the Council of Ministers, 
where a discussion of it might have been demanded; it was passed 
as an extraordinary measure, at the suggestion of the Ministry 
of the Interior represented by Durnovo and Plehve. This is 
indicated by the heading of the ukase: "The Minister of the 
Interior has applied most humbly to his Imperial Majesty begging 
permission to adopt the following measures." This succession of 
illegalities was to be veiled by the ambiguous formulation of the 
ukase and the addition of the hackneyed stipulation: "Pending 
the revision of the enactments concerning the Jews in the ordinary 
course of legislation." 


concealed a cruel decree ordering the uprooting of thousands 
of human beings. But those who were to execute this written 
law received definite unwritten instructions which were carried 
out according to all the rules of the strategic game. 

The first victims were the Jews who resided in Moscow 
illegally or send-legally, the latter living in the suburbs. 
They were subjected to a sudden nocturnal attack, a " raid," 
which was directed by the savage Cossack general Yurkovski, 
the police commissioner-in-chief. During the night following 
the promulgation of the ukase large detachments of policemen 
and firemen made their appearance in the section of the city 
called Zaryadye, where the bulk of the " illegal " Jewish resi- 
dents were huddled together, more particularly in the immense 
so-called Glebov Yard, the former ghetto of Moscow. The 
police invaded the Jewish homes, aroused the scared inhabi- 
tants from their beds, and drove the semi-naked men, women, 
and children to the police stations, where they were kept in 
filthy cells for a day and sometimes longer. Some of the 
prisoners were released by the police which first wrested from 
them a written pledge to leave the city immediately. Others 
were evicted under a police convoy and sent out of the city like 
criminals, through the transportation prison, 1 Many families, 
having been forewarned of the impending raid, decided to 
spend, the night outside their homes to avoid arrest and mal- 
treatment at the hands of the police. They hid themselves in 
the outlying sections of the city and on the cemeteries ; they 
walked or rode all over the city the whole night. Many an 
estimable Jew was forced to shelter his wife and children, 

[* Transportation prisons are prisons in which convicts sen- 
tenced to deportation (primarily to Siberia) are kept pending 
their deportation. Such prisons were to be found in the large 
RusBian centers, among them in Moscow. 1 


stiffened from cold, in houses of ill repute which were open all 
night. But even these fugitives ultimately fell into the hands 
of the police inquisition. 

Such were the methods by which Moscow was purged of its 
rightless Jewish inhabitants a whole month before Grand 
Duke Sergius made his entrance into the city. The grand 
duke was followed soon afterwards, in the month of May, by 
the Tzar himself, who stopped in the second Bussian capital 
on his way to the Crimea. A retired Jewish soldier was coura- 
geous enough to address a petition to the Tzar, imploring 
him in touching terms to allow the former Jewish soldiers 
to remain in Moscow. The request of the Jewish soldier met 
with a quick response: he was sent to jail and subsequently 

The establishment of the new regime in Moscow was fol- 
lowed, in accordance with the provisions of the recent ukase, 
by the "gradual" expulsion of the huge number of master 
workmen and artisans who had enjoyed for many years the 
right of residence in that city and were now suddenly deprived 
of this right by a despotic caprice. The local authorities 
included among the victims of expulsion even the so-called 
" circular Jews," i. e., those who had been allowed to remain 
in Moscow by virtue of the ministerial circular of 1880, grant- 
ing the right of domicile to the Jews living there before that 
date. This vast host of honest and hard-working men — arti- 
sans, tradesmen, clerks, teachers — were ordered to leave Mos- 
#jcow in three instalments: those having lived there for not 
more than three years and those unmarried or childless were 
to depart within three to six months; those having lived 
there for not more than six years and having children or 
apprentices to the number of four were allowed to postpone 
their departure for six to nine months; finally the old Jewish 


settlers, who had big families and employed a large number of 
workingmen, were given a reprieve from nine to twelve months. 
It would almost seem as if the maximum and minimum 
dates within each term were granted specifically for the pur- 
pose of yielding an enormous income to the police, which, 
for a substantial consideration, could postpone the expulsion 
of the victims for three months and thereby enable them to 
wind up their affairs. At the expiration of the final terms 
the unfortunate Jews were not allowed to remain in the city 
even for one single day; those that stayed behind were ruth- 
lessly evicted. An eye-witness, in summing up the information 
at his disposal, the details of which are even more heart- 
rending than the general facts, gives the following description 
of the Moscow events : 

People who have lived in Moscow for twenty, thirty, or even 
forty years were forced to sell their property within a short time 
and leave the city. Those who were too poor to comply with the 
orders of the police, or who did not succeed in selling their prop- 
erty for a mere song — there were cases of poor people disposing of 
their whole furniture for one or two rubles — were thrown into 
jail, or sent to the transportation prison, together with criminals 
and all kinds of riff-raff that were awaiting their turn to he dis- 
patched under convoy. Men who had all their lives earned their 
bread by the sweat of their brow found themselves under the 
thumb of prison inspectors, who placed them at once on an equal 
footing with criminals sentenced to hard labor. In these sur- 
roundings they were sometimes kept for several weeks and then 
dispatched In batches to their "homes" which many of them 
never saw again. At the threshold of the prisons the people 
belonging to the " unprivileged " estates-— the artisans were almost 
without exception members of the M burgher class"— had wooden 
handcuffs put on them . . . .* 

[* Under the Russian law (compare vol. I, p. 308, n. 2) burghers 
are subject to corporal punishment, whereas the higher estates, 
among them the merchants, enjoy immunity in this direction.] 


It is difficult to state accurately how many people were made 
to endure these tortures, inflicted on them without the due pro- 
cess of law. Some died in prison, pending their transportation. 
Those who could manage to scrape together a few pennies left for 
the Pale of Settlement at their own expense. The sums speedily 
collected by their coreligionists, though not inconsiderable, could 
do nothing more than rescue a number of the unfortunates from 
jail, convoy, and handcuffs. But what can there be done when 
thousands of human nests, lived in for so many years, are sud- 
denly destroyed, when the catastrophe comes with the force 
of an avalanche so that even the Jewish heart which is open to 
sorrow cannot grasp the whole misfortune? .... 

Despite the winter cold, people hid themselves on cemeteries 
to avoid jail and transportation. Women were confined in rail- 
road cars. There were many cases of expulsions of sick people 
who were brought to the railroad station in conveyances and 
carried into the cars on stretchers .... In those rare instances 
in which the police physician pronounced the transportation to be 
dangerous, the authorities insisted on the chronic character of 
the illness, and the sufferers were brought to the station in writh- 
ing pain, as the police could not well be expected to wait until 
the invalids were cured of their chronic ailments. Eye-witnesses 
will never forget one bitterly cold night in January, 1892. Crowds 
of Jews dressed in beggarly fashion, among them women, children, 
and old men, with remnants of their household belongings lying 
around them, filled the station of the Brest railroad. Threatened 
by police convoy and transportation prison and having failed to 
obtain a reprieve, they had made up their mind to leave, despite a 
temperature of thirty degrees below zero. Fate, it would seem, 
wanted to play a practical joke on them. At the representations 
of the police commissioner-in-chief, the governor-general of Mos- 
cow had ordered to stop the expulsions until the great colds had 
passed, but .... the order was not published until the expulsion 
had been carried out. In this way some 20,000 Jews who had lived 
in Moscow fifteen, twenty-five, and even forty years were forcibly 
removed to the Jewish Pale of Settlement. 


3. Effect of Protests 

All these horrors, which remind one of the expulsion from 
Spain in 1492, were passed over in complete silence by the 
Russian public press. The cringing and reactionary papers 
would not, and the liberal papers could not, report the exploits 
of the Russian Government in their war against the Jews. 
The liberal press was ordered by the Russian censor to refrain 
altogether from touching on the Jewish question. The only 
Russian-Jewish press organ which, defying the threats of the 
censor, had dared to fight against official Russian Judaeo- 
phobia, the Voskhod, had been suppressed already in March, 
before the promulgation of the Moscow expulsion edict, " for 
the extremely detrimental course pursued by it." A similar 
fate overtook the Novosti of St. Petersburg which had printed 
a couple of sympathetic articles on the Jews. 

In this way the Government managed to gag the independent 
press on the eve of its surprise attack upon Moscow Jewry, 
so that everything could be carried out noiselessly, under the 
veil of a state secret. Fortunately, the foreign press managed 
to unveil the mystery. The Government of the United States, 
faced by a huge immigration tide from Russia, sent in June, 
1891, two commissioners, Weber and Kempster, to that country. 
They visited Moscow at the height of the expulsion fever, and, 
travelling through the principal centers of the Pale of Settle- 
ment, gathered carefully sifted documentary evidence of what 
was being perpetrated upon the Jews in the Empire of the Tzar. 

While decimating the Jews, the Russian Government was 
at the same time anxious that their cries of distress should 
not penetrate beyond the Russian border. Just about that 
time Russia was negotiating a foreign loan, in which the 
Rothschilds of Paris were expected to take a leading part, and 


found it lather inconvenient to stand forth in the eyes of 
Europe as the ghost of medieval Spain. It was this considera- 
tion which prompted the softened and ambiguous formulation 
of the Moscow expulsion decree and made the Government 
suppress systematically all mention of what happened after- 

Notwithstanding these efforts, the cries of distress were soon 
heard all over Europe. The Russian censorship had no power 
over the public opinion outside of Russia. The first Moscow 
refugees, who had reached Berlin, Paris, and London, reported 
what was going on at Moscow. Already in April, 1891, the 
European financial press began to comment on the fact that 
" the Jewish population of Russia is altogether irreplaceable 
in Russian commercial life, forming a substantial element 
which contributes to the prosperity of the country," and that, 
therefore, " the expulsion of the Jews must of necessity greatly 
alarm the owners of Russian securities who are interested in 
the economic progress of Russia" Soon afterwards it became 
known that Alphonse de Rothschild, the head of the great finan- 
cial firm in Paris, refused to take a hand in floating the Russian 
loan of half a billion. This first protest of the financial king 
against the anti-Semitic policy of the Russian Government 
produced a sensation, and it was intensified by the fact that it 
was uttered in France at a time when the diplomats of both 
countries were preparing to celebrate the Franco-Russian alli- 
ance which was consummated a few months afterwards. 

The expulsion from Moscow found a sympathetic echo on 
the other side of the Atlantic. President Harrison took occa- 
sion, in a message to Congress, to refer to the sufferings of 
the Jews and to the probable effects of the Russian expulsions 
upon America : 


This Government has found occasion to express in a friendly 
spirit, bat with much earnestness, to the Government of the 
Csar its serious concern because of the harsh measures now 
being enforced against the Hebrews in Russia. By the revival of 
anti-Semitic laws, long in abeyance, great numbers of those 
unfortunate people have been constrained to abandon their homes 
and leave the Empire by reason of the impossibility of finding 
subsistence within the Pale to which it is sought to confine them. 
The immigration of these people to the United States— many 
other countries being closed to them— is largely increasing, and 
is likely to assume proportions which may make it difficult to 
find homes and employment for them here and to Beriously 
affect the labor market. It is estimated that over 1,000,000 will 
be forced from Russia within a few years. The Hebrew is 
never a beggar; he has always kept the law — life by toil — often 
under severe and oppressive restrictions. It is also true that 
no race, sect, or class has more fully cared for its own than the 
Hebrew race. But the sudden transfer of such a multitude under 
conditions that tend to strip them of their small accumulations 
and to depress their energies and courage is neither good for 
them nor for us. 

The banishment, whether by direct decree or by not less certain 
indirect methods, of so large a number of men and women is not 
a local question. A decree to leave one country is in the nature 
of things an order to enter another — some other. This con- 
sideration, as well as the suggestion of humanity, furnishes ample 
ground for the remonstrances which we have presented to Russia; 
while our historic friendship for that Government cannot fail 
to give assurance that our representations are those of a sincere 
well-wisher. 1 

The sentiments of the American people were voiced less 
guardedly in a resolution which was passed by the House of 
[Representatives on July 21, 1892 : 

P Third Annual Message to Congress by President Harrison, 
December 9, 1891, Message* and Papers of the Presidents, vol. 
IX, p. 188.] 


Resolved, That the American people, through their Senators 
and Representatives in Congress assembled, do hereby express 
sympathy for the Russian Hebrews in their present condition, 
and the hope that the Government of Russia, a power with which 
the United States has always been on terms of amity and good 
will, will mitigate as far as possible the severity of the laws and 
decrees issued respecting them, and the President is requested 
to use his good offices to notify the Government of Russia to 
mitigate the said laws and decrees. 1 

The highly-placed Jew-baiters of St. Petersburg were filled 
with rage. The Novoye Vremya emptied its invectives upon 
the Zhydovski financiers, referring to the refusal of Alphonse 
de Bothschild to participate in the Russian loan. Neverthe- 
less, the Government found itself compelled to stem the tide 
of oppression for a short while. 

We have already had occasion to point out that the Govern- 
ment had originally planned to reduce the Jewish element 
also in the city of St. Petersburg, whose head, the brutal 
Gresser, had manifested his attitude toward the Jews in a 
series of police circulars. Following upon the first raid of the 
Moscow police on the Jews, Gresser ordered his gendarmes 
to search at the St. Petersburg railroad stations for all Jewish 
fugitives from that city who might have ventured to flee to 
St. Petersburg, and to deport them immediately. In April 
there were persistent rumors afloat that the Government had 
decided to remove by degrees all Jews from St. Petersburg 
and thus make both Russian capitals judenrein. The finan- 
cial blow from Paris cooled somewhat the ardor of the Jew- 
baiters on the shores of the Neva. The wholesale expulsions 
from St Petersburg were postponed, and the Bussian anti- 
Semites were forced to satisfy their cannibal appetite with 

[* Congretrtonal Record, voL 23, p. 6533.] 


the consumption of Moscow Jewry, whose annihilation was 
carried out systematically tinder the cover of bureaucratic 

4. Pogrom Interludes 

Under the effect of the officially perpetrated "legal" pogroms 
little attention was paid to the street pogrom which occurred 
on September 29, 1891, in the city of Starodub, in the gov- 
ernment of Chernigov, recalling the horrors of the eighties. 
Though caused by economic factors, the pogrom of Starodub 
assumed a religious coloring. The Russian merchants of that 
city had long been gnashing their teeth at their Jewish com- 
petitors. Led by a Bussian fanatic, by the name of Gladkov, 
they forced a regulation through the local town-council barring 
all business on Sundays and Christian holidays. The regu- 
lation was directed against the Jews who refused to do busi- 
ness on the Sabbath and the Jewish holidays, and who would 
have been ruined had they also refrained from trading on 
Sundays and the numerous Greek-Orthodox holidays, thus 
remaining idle on twice as many days as the Christians. The 
Jews appealed to the governor of Chernigov to revoke or at 
least to mitigate the new regulation. The governor's decision 
fell in favor of the Jews who were allowed to keep their stores 
open on Christian holidays from noon-time until six o'clock in 
the evening. The reply of the local Jew-baiters took the form 
of a pogrom. 

On Sunday, the day before Yom Kippur, when the Jews 
opened their stores for a few hours, a hired crowd of ruffians 
from among the local street mob fell upon the Jewish stores 
and began to destroy and loot whatever goods it could lay its 
hands on. The stores having been rapidly closed, the rioters 
invaded the residences of the Jews, destroying the property 


contained there and filling the streets with fragments of broken 
furniture and feathers from torn bedding. The plunderers 
were assisted by the peasants who had arrived from the adja- 
cent villages. In the evening, a drunken mob, which had 
assembled on the market-place, laid fire to a number of Jewish 
stores and houses, inflicting on their owners a loss of many 

All this took place during the holy Yom Kippur eve. The 
Jews, who did not dare to worship in their synagogues or 
even to remain in their homes, hid themselves with their wives 
and children in the garrets and orchards or in in the houses 
of strangers. Many Jews spent the night in a field outside 
the city, where, shivering from cold, they could watch the 
glare of the ghastly flames which destroyed all their belong- 
ings. The police, small in numbers, proved "powerless" 
against the huge hordes of plunderers and incendiaries. On 
the second day, the pogrom was over, the work of destruc- 
tion having been duly accomplished. The subsequent judicial 
inquiry brought out the fact clearly that the pogrom had been 
engineered by Gladkov and his associates, a fact of which the 
local authorities could not have been ignorant. Gladkov fled 
from the city but returned subsequently, paying but a slight 
penalty for his monstrous crime. 

It should be added, however, that the Government was 
greatly displeased with the reappearance of the terrible spectre 
of 1881, as it only tended to throw into bolder relief the policy 
of legal pogroms by which Western Europe was alarmed. As 
a matter of fact, already in October, the semi-official OraA- 
danin had occasion to print the following news item : 

Yesterday [October 16] the financial market [abroad] w*i 
marked by depression; our securities have fallen, owing to atw 



rumors concerning alleged contemplated measures agalnit the 

Commenting upon this, the paper declared that these 
rumors were entirely unfounded, for the reason that "at the 
present time all our Government departments are weighed 
down with problems of first-rate national importance which 
brook no delay/ and they could scarcely find time to busy 
themselves with such matters as the Jewish question, which 
requires mature consideration and slow progress in action. 19 

The subdued tone adopted by Count Meshcherski, the court 
journalist, was only partially in accord with the facts. He 
was right in stating that the terrible country-wide distress 
had compelled the deadly enemies of Judaism to pause in the 
execution of their entire program. But he forgot to add that 
the one clause of that program, the realization of which had 
already begun — the expulsion from Moscow — was being carried 
into effect with merciless cruelty. The huge emigration wave 
resulting from this expulsion threw upon the shores of Europe 
and America the victims of persecution who re-echoed the cries 
of distress from the land of the Tzars. 

Soon afterwards a new surprise, without parallel in history, 
was sprung upon a baffled world: the Bussian Government 
was negotiating with the Jewish philanthropist Baron Hirsch 
concerning the gradual removal of the three millions of its 
Jewish subjects from Bussia to Argentina. 

1 The paper had in mind the crop failures of that year and the 
famine which prevailed in consequence in the larger part of 



1. Negotiations With ths Russian Goveenmbnt 

Towards the end of the eighties the plan of promoting Jewish 
emigration from Russia, which had been abandoned with the 
retirement of Count Ignatyev, was again looked upon favorably 
by the leading Government circles. The sentiments of the 
Tzar were expressed in a marginal note which he attached to 
the report of the governor of Podolia for the year 1888. The 
passage of the report in which it was pointed out that " the 
removal of the Jewish proletariat from the monarchy would 
be very desirable " was supplemented in the Tzar's handwriting 
by the words " and even very useful." In reply to the pro- 
posal of the governor of Odessa to deprive Jewish emigrants 
of the right to return to Russia, the Tzar answered with a 
decided "yes." The official Russian chronicler goes even so 
far as to confess " that it was part of the plan to stimulate 
the emigration of the Jews (as well as that of the German 
colonists) by a more rigorous enforcement of the military 
duty " — a design which, from the political point of view, may 
well be pronounced criminal and which was evidently at the 
bottom of the severe military fines imposed upon the Jews. 
The same open-hearted chronicler adds : 

It may be easily understood how sympathetically the Govern- 
ment received the proposal of the Jewish Colonization Association 
In London, which had been founded by Baron de Hlrsch in 1891, to 


remove, in the coarse of twenty-fire years, &260,000 Jews from 
Russia. 1 

The name of Maurice de Hirsch was not unknown to the 
Russian Government. For a few years previously it had had 
occasion to carry on negotiations with him, with results of 
which it had scant reason to boast. This great German-Jewish 
philanthropist, who was resolved to spend hundreds of millions 
on the economic and agricultural advancement of his co- 
religionists in Eastern Europe, had donated in 1888 fifty 
million francs for the purpose of establishing in Russia arts 
and crafts schools, as well as workshops and agricultural farms 
for the Jews. It was natural for him to assume that the Rus- 
sian Government would only be too glad to accept this enormous 
contribution which was bound to stimulate productive labor 
in the country and raise the welfare of its destitute masses. 
But he had forgotten that the benefits expected from the fund 
would accrue to the Jewish proletariat, which, according to 
the catechism of Jew-hatred, was to be " removed from the 
monarchy " The stipulation made by the Russian Govern- 
ment to the representatives of Baron Hirsch was entirely 
unacceptable : it insisted that the money should not be handed 
over to Jewish public agencies but to the Russian Government 
which would expend it as it saw fit. Somebody conceived 
the shameful idea, which was accepted by the representatives 
of Baron Hirsch, of propitiating Pobyedonostzev by a gift of 
a million francs for the needs of his pet institution, the Greek- 
Orthodox parochial schools. The " gift " was accepted, but 
Hirsch's proposal was declined. Thus it came about that the 

P This figure represents the official estimate of the number of 
Russian Jews. In other words, the Government hoped to get rid 
of all Jews.] 


Russian Jews were deprived of a network of model schools 
and educational establishments, while a million of Jewish 
money went to swell the number of the ecclesiastic Russian 
schools which imbued the Russian masses with crass ignorance ** 
and anti-Semitic prejudices. The Hirsch millions, originally 
intended for Russia, went partly towards the establishment 
of Jewish schools in Galicia, a work which met with every 
possible encouragement from the Austrian Government. 

The generous Jewish philanthropist now realized that the as- 
sistance he was anxious to render to his Russian coreligionists 
could not take the form of improving their condition in their 
own country but rather that of settling them outside of it — 
by organizing the emigration movement. Hirsch's attention 
was called to the fact that, beginning with 1889, several 
groups of Russian Jews had settled in Argentina and, after 
incredible hardships, had succeeded in establishing there 
several agricultural colonies. The baron seat an expedition 
to Argentina, under the direction of Professor Loewenthal, an 
authority on hygiene, for the purpose of investigating the 
country and finding out the places fit for colonization. The 
expedition returned in March, 1891, and Hirsch decided to 
begin with the purchase of land in Argentina, in accordance 
with the recommendations of the expedition. 

This happened at the very moment when the Moscow catas- 
trophe had broken out, resulting in a panicky flight from Rus- 
sia to North and South America, and partly to Palestine. 
Baron Hirsch decided that it was his first duty to regulate 
the emigration movement from Russia, and he made another 
attempt to enter into negotiations with the Russian Govern- 
ment. With this end in view he sent his representative to St 
Petersburg, the Englishman Arnold White, a Member of Par- 


liament, belonging to the parliamentary anti-alien group, who 
was opposed to foreign immigration into England, on the 
ground of its harmful effect upon the interests of the native 
workingmen. Simultaneously White was commissioned to 
travel through the Pale of Settlement and find out whether 
it would be possible to obtain there an element fit for agri- 
cultural colonization in Argentina. 

White arrived in St. Petersburg in May and was received 
by Pobyedonostzev and several Ministers. The martyrdom 
of the Moscow Jews was then at its height. Shouts of indig- 
nation were ringing through the air of Europe and America, 
protesting against the barbarism of the Russian Government, 
and the latter was infuriated both by these protests and the 
recent refusal of Rothschild to participate in the Russian loan. 
The high dignitaries of St Petersburg who had been disturbed 
in their work of Jew-baiting by the outcry of the civilized 
world gave full vent to their hatred in their conversations with 
Baron Hirsch's deputy. White reported afterwards that the 
functionaries of St. Petersburg had painted to him the Russian 
Jew as " a compound of thief and usurer." Pobyedonostzev 
delivered himself of the following malicious observation: 
" The Jew is a parasite. Remove him from the living organism 
in which and on which he exists and put this parasite on a 
rock — and he will die." While thus justifying before the dis- 
tinguished foreigner their system of destroying the five million 
Jewish "parasites," the Russian Ministers were nevertheless 
glad to lend a helping hand in removing them from Russia, 
on condition that in the course of twelve years a large part 
of the Jews should be transferred from the country — in the 
confidential talks with White three million emigrants were 
mentioned as the proposed figure. White was furnished with 


letters of recommendation from Pobyedonostzev and the Min- 
ister of the Interior to the highest officials in the provinces, 
thither the London delegate betook himself to get acquainted 
with the living export material. He visited Moscow, Kiev, 
Berdychev, Odessa, Kherson, and the Jewish agricultural colo- 
nies in South Bussia. 

After looking closely at Jewish conditions, White became 
convinced that the perverted type of Jew which had been 
painted to him in St. Petersburg " was evolved from the inner 
consciousness of certain orthodox statesmen, and has no exis- 
tence in f act." Wherever he went he saw men who were sober, 
industrious, enterprising business men, efficient artisans, whose 
physical weakness was merely the result of insufficient nourish- 
ment. His visit to the South-Russian colonies convinced him 
of the fitness of the Jews for colonization. 

In short — he writes in his renprt— if courage— moral courage,— 
hope, patience, temperance are fine qualities, then the Jews are 
a fine people. Such a people, under wise direction, is destined 
to make a success of any well-organized plan of colonization, 
whether in Argentina, Siberia, or South Africa. 

On his return to London, White submitted a report to 
Baron Hirsch, stating the above facts, and also pointing out 
that the assistance which should be rendered to the emigration 
work by the Russian Government ought to take the form of 
granting permission to organize in Bussia emigration com- 
mittees, of relieving the emigrants of the passport tax/ and 
of allowing them free transportation up to the Russian border. 

[ l The tax levied cm passports for travelling abroad amounting 
to fifteen rubles (17.50). J 


2. The Jewish Colonization Association and Collapse 

of the argentinian sohemb 

White's report was discussed by Baron Hirsch in conjunc- 
tion with the leading Jews of Western Europe. As a result, 
the decision was reached to establish a society which should 
undertake on a large scale the colonization of Argentina and 
other American territories with Russian Jews. The society 
was founded in London in the autumn of 1891, under the name 
of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), in the form of 
a stock company, with a capital of fifty million francs which 
was almost entirely subscribed by Baron Hirsch. White was 
dispatched to St. Petersburg a second time to obtain permis- 
sion for organizing the emigration committees in Bussia and to 
secure the necessary privileges for the emigrants. The English 
delegate, who was familiar with the frame of mind of the lead- 
ing Government circles in Bussia, unfolded before them the 
far-reaching plans of Baron Hirsch. The Jewish Colonization 
Association was to transplant 25,000 Jews to Argentina in 
the course of 1892 and henceforward to increase progressively 
the ratio of emigrants, so that in the course of twenty-five years, 
3,250,000 Jews would be taken out of Bussia. 

This brilliant perspective of a Jewish exodus cheered the 
hearts of the neo-Egyptian dignitaries. Their imagination 
caught fire. When the question came up before the Committee 
of Ministers, the Minister of the Navy, Chikhachev, proposed 
to pay the Jewish Colonization Association a bonus of a few 
rubles for each emigrant and thus enable it to transfer no less 
than 130,000 people during the very first year, so that the con- 
templated number of 3,250,000 might be distributed evenly 
over twenty-five years. A suggestion was also made to trans- 
plant the Jews with their own money, t. e., to use the residue 


of the Jewish meat tax for that purpose, but the suggestion 
was not considered feasible. The official chronicler testifies 
that " the fascinating proposition of Baron Hirsch appeared 
to the Russian Government hardly capable of realization." 
Nevertheless, prompted by the hope that at least part of the 
contemplated millions of Jews would leave Russia, the Gov- 
ernment sanctioned the establishment of a Central Committee 
of the Jewish Colonization Association in St. Petersburg, with 
branches in the provinces. It further promised to issue to the 
emigrants free of charge permits to leave the country and to 
relieve them from miltary duty on condition that they never 
return to Russia. 

In May, 1892, the constitution of the Jewish Colonization 
Association was ratified by the Tzar. At that time the emi- 
gration tide of the previous year was gradually ebbing. 
The flight from Russia to North and South America had 
reached its climax in the summer and autumn of 1891. The 
expulsion from Moscow as well as alarming rumors of im- 
minent persecutions, on the one hand, and exaggerated news 
about the plans of Baron Hirsch, on the other, had resulted 
in uprooting tens of thousands of people. Huge masses of 
refugees had flocked to Berlin, Hamburg, Antwerp, and Lon- 
don, imploring to be transferred to the United States or to 
the Argentinian colonies. Everywhere relief committees were 
being organized, but there was no way of forwarding the emi- 
grants to their new destination, particularly to Argentina, 
where the large territories purchased by Hirsch were not yet 
ready for the reception of colonists. Baron Hirsch was com- 
pelled to send out an appeal to all Jewish communities, calling 
upon them to stem for the present this disorderly human 


Ere long Baron Hirsch's dream of transplanting millions 
of people with millions of money proved an utter failure. 
When, after long preparations, the selected Jewish colonists 
were at last dispatched to Argentina, it was found that the 
original figure of 25,000 emigrants calculated for the first 
year had shrunk to about 2500. Altogether, during the first 
three years, from 1892 to 1894, the Argentinian emigration 
absorbed some six thousand people. Half of these remained 
in the capital of the republic, in Buenos Ayres, while the 
other half managed to settle in the colonies, after enduring 
all the hardships connected with an agricultural colonization 
in a new land and under new climatic conditions. A few years 
later it was commonly realized that the mountain had given 
birth to a mouse. Instead of the million Jews, as originally 
planned, the Jewish Colonization Association succeeded in 
transplanting during the first decade only 10,000 Jews, who 
were distributed over six Argentinian colonies. 

The main current of Jewish emigration flowed as hereto- 
fore in the direction of North America, towards the United 
States and Canada. In the course of the year 1891, with its 
numerous panics, the United States alone absorbed more than 
100,000 emigrants, over 42,000 of whom succeeded in arriving 
the same year, while 76,000 were held back in various European 
centers and managed to come over the year after. The fol- 
lowing two years show again the former annual ratio of emi- 
gration, wavering between 30,000 to 35,000. 

The same fateful year of 1891 gave rise to a colonization 
fever ^even in quiet Palestine. Already in the beginning of 
1890 the Russian Government had legalized the Palestinian 
colonization movement in Bussia by sanctioning the consti- 
tution of the " Society for Granting Assistance to Jewish 


Colonists and Artisans in Syria and Palestine," which had its 
headquarters in Odessa. 1 This sanction enabled the Hobebe 
Zion societies which were scattered all over the country to 
group themselves around a legalized center and collect money 
openly for their purposes* The Palestinian propaganda gained 
a new lease of life. This propaganda, which was intensified 
in its effect by the emigration panic of the " terrible year/' 
resulted in the formation of a number of societies in Russia 
with the object of purchasing land in Palestine. In the begin- 
ning of 1891 delegates of these societies suddenly appeared in 
Palestine en masse, and, with the co-operation of a Jaffa repre- 
sentative of the Odessa Palestine Society, began feverishly to 
buy up the land from the Arabs. This led to a real estate specu- 
lation which artificially raised the price of land. Moreover, 
the Turkish Government became alarmed, and forbade the 
wholesale colonization of Jews from Russia. The result was 
a financial crash. 

The attempt at a wholesale immigration into destitute Pales- 
tine with its primitive patriarchal conditions proved a failure. 
During the following years the colonization of the Holy Land 
with Russian Jews proceeded again at a slow pace. One colony 
after another rose gradually into being. A large part of 
the old and the new settlers were under the charge of Baron 
Rothschild's administration, with the exception of two or three 
colonies which were maintained by the Palestine Society in 
Odessa. It was evident that, in view of the slow advance of 
the Palestinian colonization, its political and economic im- 
portance for the Russian-Jewish millions was practically nil 
and that its only advantage over and against the American 

x The first president of the Society was the exponent of the 
idea of " Autoemancipation," Dr. Leon Pinsker, who occupied 
this post until his death, at the end of 1891. 


emigration lay in its spiritual significance, in the fact that on 
the historic soil of Judaism there rose into being a small 
Jewish center with a purer national culture than was possible 
in the Diaspora. This idea was championed by Ahad Ha'am, 1 
the exponent of the neo-Palestine movement, who had made 
his first appearance in Hebrew literature in 1889 and in a 
short time forged his way to the front, 

3. Continued Humiliations and Death of 

Alexander IIL 

In the meantime, in the land of the Tzars events went 
their own course. The Moscow tragedy was nearing its end, 
but its last stages were marked by scenes reminiscent of the 
times of the inquisition. After banishing from Moscow the 
larger part of the Jewish population, the governor-general, 
Grand Duke Sergius, made up his mind to humble the remain- 
ing Jewish population of the second Russian capital so thor- 
oughly that its existence in the center of Greek Orthodoxy 
might escape public notice. The eyes of the Russian officials at 
Moscow were offended by the sight of the new beautiful 
synagogue structure which had been finished in the fateful 
year of the expulsion. At first, orders were given to remove 
from the top of the building the large cupola capped by the 
Shield of David, which attracted the attention of all passeto-by. 
Later on, the police, without any further ado, shut down the 
synagogue, in which services had already begun to be held, 
pending the receipt of a new Bpecial permit to re-open it. 
Rabbi Minor of Moscow and the warden of the synagogue 
addressed a petition to the governor-general, in which they 
begged permission to hold services in the building, the construc- 

[* " One of the People,** the Hebrew pen-name of Asber Glnzberg.] 


tion of which had been duly sanctioned by the Government, 
pointing to the fact that Judaism was one of the religions 
tolerated in Russia, In answer to their petition, they received 
the following stern reply from St. Petersburg, dated Septem- 
ber 23, 1892 : 

His Imperial Majesty, after listening to a report of the Minister 
of the Interior concerning the willful opening of the Moscow 
Synagogue by Rabbi Minor and Warden Schneider, was graciously 
pleased to command as follows: 

First. Rabbi Minor of Moscow shall be dismissed from his 
post and transferred for permanent residence to the Pale of 
Jewish Settlement. 

Second. Warden Schneider shall be removed from the pre- 
cincts of Moscow for two years. 

Third. The Jewish Synagogue Society shall be notified that, 
unless, by January 1, 1893, the synagogue structure will have been 
sold or transformed into a charitable institution, it will be sold 
at public auction by the gubernatorial administration of Moscow. 

The rabbi and the warden went into exile, while the dead 
body of the murdered synagogue — its structure — was saved 
from desecration by placing in it one of the schools of the 
Moscow community. 

The fight against the places of Jewish worship was renewed 
by the police a few years later, during the reign of Nicholas II. 
The principal synagogue being closed, the Jews of Moscow 
were compelled to hold services in uncomfortable private 
premises* There were fourteen houses of prayer of this kind 
in various parts of the city, but, on the eve of the Jewish 
Passover of 1894, the governor-general gave orders to close 
nine of these houses, so that the religions needs of a community 
of ten thousand souls had to be satisfied in five houses of 
worship, situated in narrow, unsanitary quarters. The Govern- 


ment had achieved its purpose. The synagogue was humbled 
into the dust, and its sight no longer offended the eyes of the 
Greek-Orthodox zealots. The Jews of Moscow were forced to 
pour out their hearts before God in some back yards, in the 
stuffy atmosphere of private dwellings. As in the days of the 
Spanish inquisition, these private houses of worship would, 
on the solemn days of Bosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur, be 
stealthily visited by the "marranos" of Moscow, those Jews 
who had saved themselves from the wholesale expulsions by 
fictitious conversion to Christianity. The passionate prayers 
of repentance of these involuntary apostates rose up to heaven 
as they had done in centuries gone-by from the underground 
synagogues of Seville, Toledo, and Saragossa. 

By and by, the attempt to take the Jewish citadel by storm 
gave way to the former regular state of siege, which had for 
its object to starve out the Jews. The municipal counter- 
reform of 1892 dealt a severe political blow to Russian Jewry. 
Under the old law, the number of Jewish aldermen in the 
municipal administration had been limited to one-third of the 
total number of aldermen, aside from the prohibition barring 
the Jews from the office of burgomaster. 1 Notwithstanding 
these restrictions, the Jews played a conspicuous part in muni- 
cipal self-government, and could boast of a number of promi- 
nent municipal workers. This activity of the Jews went against 
the grain of the inquisitorial trio, Pobyedonostzev, Durnovo, 
and Plehve, and they decided to bar the Jews completely from 
participation in the municipal elections. 

The reactionary, anti-democratic " Municipal Regulation " 
of 1892 proclaimed publicly this new Jewish disfranchise- 
ment. The new law deprived the Jews of their right of 

? See p. 198 et *eqJ] 


passive and active election to the municipal Dumas, merely 
granting the local administration the right to appoint at its 
pleasure a number of Jewish aldermen, not to exceed one- 
tenth of the total membership of the Duma. Moreover, these 
Jewish aldermen " by the grace of the police " were prohibited 
from serving on the executive organs of the Duma, the admin- 
istrative council, and the various standing committees. As a 
result, even there where the Jews formed sixty and seventy 
per cent of the total urban population, their only representa- 
tives in the municipal administration were men who were the 
willing tools of the municipal powers and who, moreover, were 
quantitatively restricted to five or ten per cent of the total num- 
ber of aldermen. 

In this wise, the law providing for an inverse ratio of popu- 
lar representation came into effect: four-fifths of the popula- 
tion were limited to one-tenth of the number of aldermen, while 
one-fifth of it were granted nine-tenths of aldermen in the city 
government. The law seemed to tell the Jews : " True, in a 
given city you may form the overwhelming majority of tax- 
payers, yet the city property shall not be managed by you 
but by the small Christian minority which shall do with you 
as it pleases." 

It goes without saying that the Christian minority, which 
was not infrequently hostile to the Jews, managed the city/ 
affairs in a manner subversive of the interests of the majority. 
Even the imposts on special Jewish needs, such as the meat 
and candle tax, were often used by the municipal Dumas 
towards the maintenance of institutions and schools to which 
Jews were admitted in an insignificant number or not admitted 
at all. This condition of affairs was in full accord with the 
medieval Church canons : A Jew living in a Christian country 


has no right to dispose of any property and must remain in 
slavish subjection to his Christian fellow-citizens. 

A number of laws passed during that period are of such 
a nature as to admit of but one explanation, the desire to 
insult and humiliate the Jew and to brand him by the medieval 
Cain's mark of persecution. The law, issued in 1893, " Con- 
cerning Names" threatens with criminal prosecution those 
Jews who in their private life call themselves by names differing 
in form from those recorded in the official registers. The prac- 
tice of many educated Jews to Russianize their names, such 
as Gregory, instead of Hirsch, Vladimir, instead of Wolf, etc., 
could now land the culprits in prison. It was even forbidden 
to correct the disfigurements to which the Jewish names were 
generally subjected in the registers, such as Yosel, instead of 
Joseph; Srul, instead of Israel; Itzek, instead of Isaac, and so 
on. In several cities the police brought action against such 
Jews "for having adopted Christian names " in newspaper 
advertisements, on visiting cards, or on door signs. 

The new Passport Regulation of 1894 orders to insert in 
all Jewish passports a physical description of their owners, 
even in the case of their being literate and, therefore, being 
able to affix their signature to the passport, whereas such 
description was omitted from the passports of literate Chris- 
tians. In some places the police deliberately tried to make, 
the Jewish passports more conspicuous by marking on them 
the denomination of the owner in red ink. Even in those 
rare instances in which the law was intended to bring relief, 
the Government managed to emphasize its hostile intent. The* 
law of 1893, legalizing the Jewish heder and putting an end 
to the persecutions, which this traditional Jewish school had 
suffered at the hands of the police, narrowed at the same time: 


its function to that of an exclusively religions institution and 
indirectly forbade the teaching in it of general secular sub- 
jects. There are cases on record in which the keepers of 
these heders, the so-called melammeds, were put on trial for 
imparting to their pupils a knowledge of Russian and arith- 

However, the most effective whip in the hands of the Gov- 
ernment remained as theretofore the expulsion from the gov- 
ernments of the interior. In 1893, this whip cracked over the 
backs of thousands of Jewish families. Durnovo, the Minis- 
ter of the Interior, issued a circular, repealing the old decree 
of 1880, which had sanctioned the residence outside the Pale 
of Settlement of all those Jews who had lived there previously. 1 
That decree had been prompted by the motive to prevent the 
complete economic ruin of the Jews who were settled in 
places outside the Pale and had created there industrial enter- 
prises. But such a motive, which even the anti-Semitic Min- 
istry of Tolstoi had not been bold enough to disregard, did not 
appeal to the new Hamans. Many thousands of Jewish fami- 
lies, who had lived outside the Pale for decades, were threatened 
with exile. Tlie difficulties attending the execution of this 
wholesale expulsion forced the Government to make conces- 
sions. In the Baltic provinces the banishment of the old 
settlers was repealed, while in the Great Russian governments 
it was postponed for a year or two. 

There was a particularly spiteful motive behind the imperial 
ukase of 1893, excluding the Crimean resort place Yalta from 
the Pale of Settlement,' and ordering the expulsion from there 
of hundreds of families which were not enrolled in the local 

[* Compare p. 404.] 

'The Crimean peninsula, forming part of the government of 
Tavrida, is situated within the Pale. 


town community. No official reason was given for this new 
disability, but everybody knew it. In the neighborhood of 
Yalta was the imperial summer residence Livadia, where 
Alexander III. was fond of spending the autumn, and this 
circumstance made it imperative to reduce the number of the 
local Jewish residents to a negligible quantity. To avert the 
complete ruin of the victims, many were granted reprieves, 
but after the expiration of their terms they were ruthlessly 
deported. The last batches of exiles were driven from Yalta 
in the month of October and in the beginning of November, 
1894, during the days of public mourning for the death of 
Alexander III. On October 20, the Tzar was destined to die 
in the neighborhood of the town which was purged of the 
Jewish populace for his benefit. While the earthly remains of 
the dead emperor were carried on the railroad tracks to 
St. Petersburg, trains filled with Jewish refugees from Yalta 
were rolling on the parallel tracks, speeding towards the Pale 
of Settlement. 

Such was the symbolic finale of the reign of Alexander III. 
which lasted fourteen years. Having begun with pogroms, it 
ended with expulsions. The martyred nation stood at the 
threshold of the new reign with a silent question on its lip: 
"What next?" 

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